Microsoft To Shut Down TechNet Subscription Service
I think what they're trying to do is move people over to the evaluations, which is really what TechNet was *supposed* to be for. Sure, the license keys you got with it allowed you to "indefinitely evaluate" their software (in a lab environment, or whatever), but with some trials lasting as long as half a year, it's kind of become redundant.
Professors Rejecting Classroom Technology
> If you're the kind of person who can't keep a piece of paper, or who can't enter the important information from that piece of paper into the data device of your choosing, you're probably not going to do well in the course anyway.
I honestly hope that's really not what you believe. I have a few profs who don't post their syllabi online, and it's really infuriating. I don't have access to my notebooks 24/7, and the syllabus contains enough information that I can't simply copy without spending a significant amount of time doing so. If it was posted on a course website, I could access it from anywhere, even if I don't have my stuff, or even if I happened to misplace the paper amongst all the other hundreds of pieces I get every term.
It's already in digital form. How hard is it to upload?
> But more to the point, learning technology is almost always more suited for the student than for the instructor.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but bear with me.
I'm not saying the students should have it easy or don't have to work hard to get what they need, but some professors have this attitude that if something makes their lives simpler, despite its effects on students, they will take that route.
One of my accounting professors is a good example of this. The school has an amazing online system for tests, quizzes, and homework assignments. All it really requires is the professor to input questions into a bank and he/she can issue these things over the internet. Of course, they could also give a paper assignment, but let's say the prof wants an online one. This professor refuses to use that system; instead, he opts with the publisher's system. This not only requires me to pay $100 to access (I bought the book used so I guess I get punished for not paying retail), but also to suffer through the publisher's shitty system. The questions are ambiguous, the HTML is half-broken, the alignment is off, there are 400 dropdown boxes that offer 30 answers and any one of them could be the right one, and it penalizes you for leaving a field blank instead of putting a zero (even though in accounting you don't do that in certain instances). Because of this, my mark suffers.
But the prof insists on doing it because "it makes [his] life easier" and he "doesn't want to mark everyone's assignment manually." But he also can't be assed to use a system that I already paid for (by virtue of paying my fees) and set up his own, unambiguous, well-thought-out questions.
I'm sorry, but I pay your salary. You work for me, not the other way around. I get that you have stuff to do, but please don't compromise my education for your comfort if that means I do poorer for it. I'm not asking you to make my work easy; I'm asking you to give me the education I paid for.
A Custom Objectionable Word List Ate My Homework
What I don't understand is why "gay" and "lesbian" are "concern words." I think that's actually more significant and alarming than anything else.
With all the bullying going on in schools, and the corresponding suicides that have peppered the media recently (especially of LGBT teens), I think the last thing that needs to happen are for kids to accidentally out themselves or each other to the designated school censor, whomever that might be.
Why does the North Canton school district feel that they must track any email with the word "gay" and "lesbian" in it? Just what are they trying to track?
StartSSL Suspends Services After Security Breach
I submitted a story about this about a week ago: http://slashdot.org/submission/1653760/Free-Certificate-Authority-StartCom-Taken-Offline and speculated on whether or not this was due to a security breach.
I am a bit disappointed in StartCom, considering they probably knew about this for a while and failed to tell anyone the moment it became apparent.
I am fearful about what, if any customer data, was compromised. When you submit info for validation, you have to submit scans of your ID -- a drivers license, passport etc -- as well as other personal information. If the crackers got a hold of that info, there could be a bastion of fraud being perpetrated without anyone realizing it until it is too late.
Many bank accounts these days can be opened over the Internet simply with a scan of a photo ID and filling out a form. One can apply for loans using the same information without ever setting foot inside a bank. This is a bigger threat, IMO, than fraudulent certs being issued; this can be revoked and patched in a matter of days. Identity theft is never so easy to fix.
Biggest Changes In C++11 (and Why You Should Care)
Your comment caught some flack, but I couldn't help but make a similar observation as I read the spec. It seems that they are adding a lot of stuff to C++ that exists in C# (lambda expressions, delegated constructors, automatic deduction, initialization syntax, a dedicated null keyword, etc).
Of course, they added a bunch of stuff that's also NOT in C# (since it's not necessary in a high-level language like C#), but I am glad that they are revamping C++ to incorporate some higher-level functions. Now we just have to wait for compilers to start adopting the new spec...
The Encroachment of Fact-Free Science
Have they been successful in transforming the world?
Anti-intellectualism, anti-science, or anti-whatever-else has been prevalent in at least the United States for a very, very long time. And it starts when you're very young.
I remember being in school, in first grade. I was smarter than a lot of other kids in my class, and because of that I was ostracized. I wasn't allowed to be an intellectual; stupidity was celebrated. Acts of buffoonery were promoted and lauded.
Is it any coincidence why the most socially-outgoing people, in the history of K-12, are typically *not* the intellectuals? The "nerds" and "geeks" are always kept from ever rising above the "jocks" on the social ladder.
When you make it to college/university, it doesn't change very much. The nerds are at least not the brunt of jokes, and they're allowed to sit in the science and engineering buildings well into the night, silently doing their nerdy sciency and engineery things.
But the loud ones -- in sports, and poli-sci -- are still the non-intellectuals of the high school years. And these are the ones who grow up to be politicians.
So when articles like this act surprised that the majority of the government is filled with anti-elitist and anti-intellectuals, I have to wonder – were they paying attention any, growing up? This sort of conditioning –letting people know that being smart is NOT COOL – starts from a very young age.
But these people became successful? So they must be smart, right? Oh, if only. It's not about what you know, but rather about who you know. Nerds don't really socialize; we focus on our work, because that makes us happy. The others schmooze and network like crazy, with like-minded anti-science colleagues, who later become leaders, while we're the ones left wondering where the world is heading.
They become rich and powerful, and spread their ideas to the next generation. Of course, not all of them are successful. Many of them are not. Many of them remained dumb because they didn't realize the importance of knowledge, since it was ingrained to them from a very early age to think that knowledge and intellect are ELITIST and UNCOOL. And so they raise their kids that same way.
And we're back to square one.
I've experienced this first hand, and I am sure many have here as well.
It sucks; it's terrible. It shouldn't be like this. But it is. And I really have no idea what to do to stop it, but the article is right about one thing – it's terribly dangerous.
Why Published Research Findings Are Often False
> 'Which results should we believe?'
What a ridiculous question. How about the results that are replicated, accurately, time and time again, and not ones that aren't based off of scientific theory, or failed attempts at scientific theory?
Hungarian Officials Can Now Censor the Media
> As an American, you can never, ever be right to praise America, EVER.
I think most *reasonable* people can tell you when something works in America, versus something that doesn't in another country.
I think you're right, to an extent, that anti-Americanism is prevalent all over the place. I felt it in Hungary when I was there last, and I feel it here in Canada where I am attending university. But despite all of that, I find the points that people make against America are ill-informed, or hyperbolized. I find myself correcting many misconceptions. I also realized that most people outside of the U.S. tend to paint Americans with the brush they're given: our leaders, and our tourists. Our leaders are obnoxious, so people think that every living, breathing American is an amalgamation of their deeds or actions, when in reality, the bulk of the populace is nothing like the people that lead our country.
That being said, I think I have a rather interesting viewpoint from other Americans. There was a lot of multi-cultural focus growing up (my parents are very traditional, conservative Hungarians coming from the post-WWII, Soviet-bloc-era Hungary), and I think that's given me a rather different perspective. I don't think praising America is seen as something bad, even within America. Painting liberals or leftists as being against praising America is disingenuous. Praising America, where praise is called for, is not wrong. I think where people start having an issue with it, is when they see Americans as not realizing that something outside of America *cannot possibly* be better than the American way.
National healthcare is one which I've seen in-action, on a first-person basis living here in Canada as a student. I can tell you with absolute certainty, that it is better than anything I have ever experienced in the US. My family has a very expensive health insurance policy, and neither its quality, nor its execution, compared to what is offered here. This is obviously my own personal experience, and may not reflect the actual facts situation at-large, but from what I've heard, it's fairly accurate. But there are flaws with this system (flaws which I am willing to look past, given its long-term effectiveness), and having experienced both this system and the American health insurance system, I can point-by-point tell you what I believe America is doing wrong, and what I believe Canada is doing wrong. The Canadians who have never lived in the U.S. can't say that, neither can the Americans who have never lived in Canada. That's why I felt the whole 'debate' was a farce. The Republicans spent too much time talking about socialism (as if there's anything wrong with it), and the Democrats spent too much time talking about capitalism (as if there's anything wrong with it) -- both sides trying to protect their interests, but neither side willing to actually look at facts and decide what's the best option.
Anyway, I got sidetracked. It's late, and I have a penchant for rambling when I'm tired. I think the ultimate point I was trying to make is: you made a jab at the 'leftist' NYT and the 'leftist' universities in the US. The truth is, that it's those 'leftist' institutions which taught me to respect every culture -- including my own. You say the editorial board of the NYT would take umbrage to my statement saying it wouldn't fly in the US? Sure, they'd point out every point of corruption and use it as a counter-argument. To which my response would be: of course, no system is perfect. Our system works better than Hungary's -- at the moment -- but only because our economical and social situation allows it to. And who are they not to criticize? If we stopped criticizing, we'd never get better as a people. Sure, we're not as *bad* as Hungary, but we can be better than we are. I went to the same schools everyone else did; I sang the same patriotic songs in the classroom. I think at one point, a segment of us diverged. The group that thinks America can do no wrong went one way, and the group that thinks that America can become better went another, and those two groups continue to fight in Washington, and it's affecting all of us.
Hungarian Officials Can Now Censor the Media
Also as a Hungarian, while the laws controlling media and empowering censorship *are* rather disturbing (as is their recent ruling against gay marriage and other "moral depravity"), the nationalization of pensions and the overhaul of the tax system was a necessary evil.
There was so much corruption in the government over the past several decades. Big corporations were funneling money from pensions into private interests and out-of-country. They had their representatives create loopholes in the tax system to prevent paying taxes, where the private citizen had to pay even more. Hungary's national debt became huge because of this. The legal system is also not without its problems.
Sometimes I believe you need drastic solutions to such deep-seated corruption. That being said, however, I do think that such a concentration of power is *very* dangerous, and sets a bad precedent. This new media law is definitely a sign that something is amiss.
Say what you will about the U.S., but people more or less respect the rule of law. A case may be controversial, and the result may be unappealing, but ultimately all parties understand that without order and due process, there is no government. No matter how corrupt elements of the government are, they still have to answer, ultimately, to the people (whenever that would see the light of day). In Hungary, it's a bit different. People can get away with a lot of things, and I've seen the level of corruption that exists with my own eyes. None of that would fly here in the States.
So is the government taking so much power the right thing to do? I don't know. I'm sure you can argue that, because of this corruption, it's precisely the *worst* decision you could make (give the government more power), but short of an actual revolution by a populace, how else do you clean up your own governing institutions? The only way you can, is elect people to make sweeping changes. But, as they say, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I think Orban is heading in the wrong direction. I think he's made efforts to change things, but I also think his intentions are now suspect with laws demanding censorship and other restrictions. I think by doing things like that, one basically rolls back all the good one has done.
We'll see how this plays out. I'm hoping for the best. As a second generation American, I still have very close ties to Hungary (all of my extended family lives there, and I visit often), and I do my best to keep up-to-date on its politics. I don't want my country-of-lineage to have ill repute.
When Your Company Remote-Wipes Your Personal Phone
... use IMAP. Connecting to Exchange via IMAP doesn't enable remote wipe, but still allows you to access your mail and get access to the GAL.
But honestly, if you're needing access to a company's Exchange server, there's no reason why the company can't enforce a security policy, like a PIN or password on your phone, or remote wipe capabilities. There may be sensitive data in your emails or in your contact list, that should not be accessed on a device which has no protection (or even weak protection like a PIN). It's in the best interest of the organization to be able to remotely-wipe a device connected to their Exchange server.
That being said, if you don't want to give the company access to do that to your phone, then don't connect to Exchange. If IMAP isn't enabled, then you have to take the tradeoff.
Oracle To Monetize Java VM
... Ballmer et al are wringing their hands nefariously as they see the future of C#'s marketshare increase by leaps and bounds. And that's good for Microsoft in every way, since every application written in C# instead of Java means a license for Windows is being purchased to run each copy of the software. In web apps, it's a server license; in workstation applications, it's a desktop OS license. Either way, it's a win-win for Microsoft, and a massive loss for Oracle.
Not that I mind, per se. I prefer C# in every way to Java... but from Oracle's perspective, I don't see how they see this would do anything but hurt Java and their reputation that's rather ubiquitous.
Now if only Mono would get their asses in gear and not lag so far behind .Net versions, there would actually be an open source OS alternative to running modern C# applications.
APB To Close Mere Months After Launch
I bought the game before it came out because what I read about it intrigued me. I saw gameplay footage and stuff and it looked awesome. So I bought it in preorder for $10 less and for some additional gametime. I was so happy that there was finally an MMO out there that didn't expire your gametime. I'm not a prolific player so I hated the idea of being charged $14/mo, every month, even if I didn't log in once. Since my school was starting, I decided I'd play a bit and leave the rest of the time till later. I'd played a few hours, had fun, shelved it, and was going to jump into it once again after I got my bearings in school and had a solid schedule.
That would have been in a few weeks. Well shit, now that it's shutting down, I lose $50, not having played it any more than a couple of hours, and the whole "gametime never expires" thing ended up being a farce. My gametime did expire. It was (ironically) almost five months since I've bought the game, so that's like paying $10/mo and not playing it. So in essence I won nothing, and a gaming company ran away with millions. Wonderful.
I wonder if it's actually this business model that killed it... this idea of, you don't have to pay a monthly fee, but instead you pay for gametime (or unlimited time for a monthly fee, which wouldn't be something that you'd do unless you're really into the game). Maybe it didn't make enough money? Maybe the investors realized it's better to lock people into paying a monthly fee than to paying for gametime which never expires? Maybe they never were able to address the rampant cheating that was going on (so I heard, but never experienced).
Whatever the reason, I'm very, very disappointed, and feel slightly cheated. I never did get to experience the game I paid for. I could have gotten more use out of the $50 had I burned it for heat.
AMD Hates Laptop Stickers As Much As You Do
Goo Gone works amazingly well, on even the most ridiculously adhesive residue I've encountered... and it's cheap.
US Students Struggle With Understanding of the 'Equal' Sign
I think the U.S. math curriculum could use some equality with the Chinese system.
TI Calculator DRM Defeated
That's actually not true. The TI-89 *is* allowed on the SAT; the TI-89 Plus is not (the one that has a QWERTY keyboard). I used my TI-89 on the SAT not too long ago and there were no problems. They also don't reset your memory either, and there are programs out there, like the SAT OS which aims to help you with the SAT math sections by solving things for you, and it's perfectly acceptable. You still need to know *how* to solve things.
The FCC May Decide Not To Regulate Broadband
This is disastrous. I don't even know where to begin...
While there will undoubtedly be some competition by way of cable companies vs. DSL/fiber providers (pushing video/television and what-not), on both sides there will be hefty opposition against bandwidth sinks like like Hulu and Youtube. I can see it now: "Comcast Cable is now offering unlimited bandwidth! Experience our 6mbps* high-speed Internet for a low fee of only $45.00/month! Some restrictions apply! *Certain content may not be available at full speed, such as YouTube, Hulu, and non-Comcast partners. YouTube is available at full-speed for an additional fee of $1.99/month; Hulu is available for $3.49/month; non-Comcast partners are available for a low monthly fee per site. Please see full price list for details. Comcast partners include sports sites such as NHL.com and NFL.com, as well as networks such as Comedy Central and Syfy. Switch to Comcast today to see these sites at full-speed! (Television network sites are available for $1.99/month)"
And really, nothing can stop them from doing that. They can throttle BitTorrent traffic, slow down competitors' sites, or even detect streaming media and throttle it down.
Plus, micropayments via web games such as Farmville and MMOs have proven to be a good source of income. Maybe they'll offer to unthrottle BitTorrent traffic for a "low low price of $1.99/week".
Yeah, net neutrality is a bunch of bull. If you want fast sites, you need to *pay* for fast sites, you communist. Don't expect handouts like "unlimited internet"; hell, even roads have tolls!
Avatar Blu-Ray DRM Issues
Conceivably, Internet speeds will only increase in the next decade. I think 60-100 mbps average household connection by 2020 isn't that far-fetched (and it may, in fact, be significantly more). At that point, streaming HD video into homes would not be difficult at all, and I think more and more distribution houses are going to start doing just that.
Case-in-point: DRM on streamed video can be implemented significantly more thoroughly than via physical medium. I wouldn't be surprised if Blu-Ray/DVD releases stopped being the norm and instead people bought streaming rights to a film from a co-op like Hulu, or straight from distributers like Universal/Paramount/etc. They can continue to charge ridiculous fees like $25-$30 per film, with extras, etc. And you get "lifetime" access (lifetime in quotes, of course, because it will never be like that if you never actually own a physical copy) for that price... or they can do things like "rent out" movies (which would put rental houses out of business; precisely what these publishers want, since because of the doctrine of first sale, they don't see any profit from rentals; this would eliminate that completely) for $5 a day or something. They can even sell the extra features separately for a few dollars a piece.
And if they implement the DRM correctly, encrypt the stream itself, and black-box the decryption system (via a TPM-like chip or something along those lines), it's very possible that it will be *extremely difficult* to pirate future content such as movies. They can even somehow embed the user's ID into the stream (via watermark/stegonography; I'm not an expert here so bear with me), so if pirates did manage to grab and release the stream, somehow, they can track down the source and prosecute.
Finally, this system would basically always work. Users wouldn't see the problems they're having right now with DRM, and, on top of that, they won't have a bunch of DVDs/Blu-Rays lying around that they'd have to find room for. Plus they get a searchable catalog and a bunch of other stuff that comes with having a purely digital library.
Not saying it's a good thing, necessarily, just that it's probably inevitable.
Warhammer Online Users Repeatedly Overbilled
Sorry, bad form to reply to myself, but Slashdot ate part of my comment.
"So for a bit of attention and a..." was supposed to go:
So for a bit of attention and a $20 gift per year, you can have someone who will fight for you and treat you like a human being within the huge bureaucracy of a bank. Case-in-point: Earlier this year I had over $400 worth of overdraft fees applied to my account because of an oversight by me. I appealed to my banker, explained my situation, and she was happy to reverse the charges. She could only reverse $300, but she appealed to the assistant branch manager who reversed the last $100 for me. Last year I had a similar incident, albeit with a smaller amount ($200). She helped me then, too, with no fuss.
Warhammer Online Users Repeatedly Overbilled
I've been with a number of banks, including BofA, Washington Mutual, and lately Wells Fargo. I'm not that old, but I've been banking for around 10 years, so I've had my fair share of unfair fees and what-not, but all in all, there has been one thing that has helped me over the years, and that is establishing a personal relationship with your banker.
Many banks see you as just a number with some cash tied to it. The more cash you have, the more valuable your business, but unless you have tens of thousands of cash at a branch, most banks don't care. So, in lieu of having a bunch of cash, you'll have to cash in (bad pun intended) on the human element to get human treatment.
For me, I make sure I go into the branch every now and then to make deposits, and stop by my banker's desk, ask her how her day is going, and so on. These five minute conversations are important, because they re-enforce your presence to them, and they show that you care. Once a year, for Christmas/New Year's, I buy her a small gift and write her a card (expensive isn't important; under $20 is perfect). I make sure to thank her for everything, wish her a great year, and so on.
So, for a bit of attention and a
My point is, we can all complain that banks are evil machines not caring about people, but we're part of the problem because we treat them like machines. But if we make that effort to treat them as a company run by humans, we might make some headway towards being treated as humans in turn.
(Disclaimer: YMMV of course. I left BofA because no one there gave a shit. I'd had luck with both WF and WaMu)
Microsoft Claims Google Chrome Steals Your Privacy
... emulates IE-dedicated pages (including nasties like MS Webmail) far better than Firefox. I love it.
If you mean Exchange webmail (aka Outlook Web App), the new version of Exchange (2010) supports Chrome on Windows (and it's trivial to make it support Chrome on Mac OS X; just insert one line into the web.config of OWA). You get the full experience that IE gets. Exchange also supports Safari and Firefox 3.0+ now as well.