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The Post-Lecture Classroom

rmcd Re:Ugh (169 comments)

Have you discussed this with the professor? I'm one. If a student told me what you're telling me, I would try to figure out some procedural change. Even if it's too late for you, you might help out the next group by speaking up.

Profs make mistakes, and changes have unintended consequences. I think we're going to see a lot of mistakes (as well as some revelations) over the next few years as people tinker with pedagogy.

1 year,8 days

Google Posts Images, Binaries For New Nexus 7

rmcd Re:The only thing I like about the Google devices (80 comments)

Did you get your dd command backwards? Shouldn't it be "dd if=image_file of=some_device"?

I realize you weren't writing a dd howto, but it's a potentially dangerous utility.

about a year ago

The Raspberry Pi Turns One

rmcd Re:OS choices (81 comments)

The first link here is a place to start.

about a year and a half ago

The Next Revolution In Medicine: Genome Scans For Everyone

rmcd Re:Just hold on a minute there, cowboy. (126 comments)

I believe the Obama health-care law prohibits the use of genetic information in setting health-care premiums. I think life insurers can use the information if they get it, but not health insurers.

about a year and a half ago

Google Docs Vs. Microsoft Word: an Even Matchup?

rmcd Re:A Mature Local Machine Product vs Immature Clou (346 comments)

i'm not surprised. Consider that Microsoft shipped Office 2008 (for OS X) without VBA. VBA was not restored until Office 2011. Given this kind of behavior, why on earth would anyone put themselves at Microsoft's mercy by developing *new* systems for closed-source apps using a proprietary langauge subject to change and removal? (I understand that legacy systems need to be maintained.)

about a year and a half ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing a TI-84 With Software On a Linux Box?

rmcd Re:R is easier (254 comments)

Do you have any idea what you're talking about? It's fine that you don't like the language, but the claim that it's only reliable from the command line just sounds stupid without an example. How about some concrete examples illustrating errors in the documentation or inappropriate coercion or inconsistencies between a script and the command line?

Your colleague needs to know that R functions have named parameters, the use of which avoids the problem he encountered.

about 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Replacing a TI-84 With Software On a Linux Box?

rmcd Re:R; apt-get install r-base (254 comments)

What advanced stats do you have in mind that can be done easily in Matlab but not in R? And I think your assessment of the relative acceptance of the two is out of date. R awareness is growing fast.

The choice really depends on what you are doing. Matlab is industrial strength engineering software. R is a a powerful statistics oriented programming language. In my experience, R's statistical capabilities are a strength relative to Matlab. Data handling (such as reading a csv file without barfing) is much easier in R than in Matlab. Moreover, Matlab is quite expensive. This is fine in a professional setting, but a showstopper if you're a small operation. The poster can get a student license, but why not use Octave or R? The two languages are actually similar in many respects, see David Heibeler's page.

I know researchers who have ditched Matlab in favor of R/C++. It really depends on what you're doing.

about 2 years ago

Darling: Run Apple OS X Binaries On Linux

rmcd Re:Soooo... (255 comments)

I bought a Wacom that did not work on Ubuntu 12.04. The kernel version did not yet recognize the new Wacom release (version 5 or some such), so I ended up buying an older model that did work. It was probably something that someone more knowledgable could have dealt with, but that's the point. I couldn't easily deal with it.

I tried to contact Wacom. They don't care. If it had been a problem with OS X, I bet I would have had an answer.

about 2 years ago

Khan Academy: the Teachers Strike Back

rmcd The flipped classroom is on the way (575 comments)

I think a debate about Khan's specific videos is beside the point. For years, people have been talking about online education and we got these dreadful videos of a professor lecturing, shot from the back of the room. Khan shows us a realistic vision of how online education can happen at reasonable cost. It will not necessarily replace the teachers, but it will replace a teacher who repeats the same material multiple times a day. And it will help to level the playing field.

People in universities are talking a lot about is the "flipped classroom", which means the lecture is online and clarification and working of problems occur in the classroom. This model is most obviously applicable to STEM classes, and if you haven't been following the developments, this site at NC State offers an overview of what's going on with one kind of flipped classroom and where it's happening. The University of Minnesota has recently made a huge investment in this kind of classroom.

Whatever happens with Khan specifically, he's energized a process of transformation that everyone knew had to happen eventually. Kudos to him.

more than 2 years ago

Facebook IPO Stumbles Out of the Gate

rmcd Re:Zuckerberg proves how smart he really is (423 comments)

Yes, people do say what you're saying, but I've always thought it was an investment banking marketing pitch. It's what the banker tells the shell-shocked founder as they leave the bar.

The truth is that Facebook will live or die on its product and its financial results going forward. A first-day stock price pop is just a transfer of funds from one set of pockets to another.

more than 2 years ago

Facebook IPO Stumbles Out of the Gate

rmcd Zuckerberg proves how smart he really is (423 comments)

The press coverage of Facebook's IPO is completely idiotic. For years the investment banks have been sticking it to companies doing IPOs. If the stock gets sold at $38 and it ends the day at $100, that means the company *should* have raised more than twice as much as it did. And it means that the employees participating in the IPO also got shafted. The people who benefit in that scenario are the privileged investors who get to buy at $38 and sell a few hours later at $100.

If Facebook ends up close to $38 at the end of the day, it will be a rare example of the stock having been priced correctly at the start. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, but I have increased respect for Zuckerberg. Google had a different IPO process but also didn't give away a lot of money. They knew what the banks were trying to do to them.

more than 2 years ago

12 Ways LibreOffice Writer Tops MS Word

rmcd Re:LaTeX (642 comments)

"More work fighting with the document preparation than the actual writing"

My experience is exactly the opposite: With LaTeX you write your document and let LaTeX handle the formatting. Word is much more oriented towards ad hoc formatting. It's true that beginning LaTeX users usually don't understand this, but it's because they're trying to use LaTeX the same way they used Word.

more than 2 years ago

Netflix Terms of Service Invalidates Your Right To Sue

rmcd Re:Irrelevant for the normal consumer (206 comments)

There are two issues addressed by class actions. First is compensating the consumers who've been harmed. Second is punishing miscreants and thereby providing firms an incentive for firms to behave correctly in the future.

I would argue that in most cases the individual compensation is too small to matter, but add up all the compensation and the incentives for a firm can be quite important. A successful class action suit puts all firms on notice that misbehavior leads to lawsuits and penalties.

It may not seem just that the class action attorneys get rich, but I'm not sure it's "just" that most of the rich are rich. It's just a consequence of the way the system works.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Statistical Analysis Packages For Libraries?

rmcd Rstudio (146 comments)

If you do go with R, be sure to check out Rstudio (, which is a very nice front-end for R.

In response to the posters who tell you that R is low quality because it's open source, I can tell you that's nonsense. I have Stata, Matlab, and R on my machine, and access to SAS on a research server. There are times to use each, but all else equal I use R. It's not trivial to learn, but it's a powerful high-quality piece of software, widely used in the statistics community. Whether it's appropriate for your use depends on you and the task. But it's great software.

more than 2 years ago

Mozilla Contemplating Five Week Release Cycle

rmcd Re:Sigh... (495 comments)

I got fed up with Firefox's creeping RAM consumption. I would have firefox and a bunch of other stuff running, then I'd launch Virtualbox and the whole machine would come to a grinding halt. I would check and discover that Firefox was consuming 2gb out of 4. Switching to Chrome fixed that problem. I love Firefox, but it simply wasn't working well. They say they've finally fixed the RAM consumption problem, but then they said the same thing a few versions back.

about 3 years ago

X.Org Server 1.11 Released

rmcd Re:Do we need network transparency? (145 comments)

I want to do a quick calculation in mathematica. I don't have a mathematica license on my personal machine. I log in to the research server, launch mathematica remotely, do my thing, log off.

Are you really claiming this is use case is no longer important? At my university I see it all the time.

Maybe I'm missing something.

about 3 years ago

Android Market Upgraded, Buy eBooks and Rent Movies

rmcd Re:Or they can continue... (157 comments)

Out of curiousity, what do you dislike about the nook + cm7? I ask because I have the same. I put swype on it, and it works quite well for my purposes (browsing, pdf reading). The absence of GPS and camera is unfortunate, but I knew they'd be missing. Only problem I've noticed is that for some reason gmail doesn't sync well.

more than 3 years ago

Google To Discontinue Google Labs

rmcd Google could use a little more professionalism (165 comments)

I liked labs, but I like great *finished* software even more. In my experience Google is great at rolling out early versions of cool software but often failing (or taking ridiculously long) to add critical features that would really make it complete.

If Larry Page is telling the troops that they now have to finish that final 10%, I'm all for it.

And for those complaining about innovation: G+ isn't innovative??

more than 3 years ago

Anti-PowerPoint Party Formed In Switzerland

rmcd Re:Good time to discuss alternatives (113 comments)

Are you using LaTeX to write your papers? If so, I *highly* recommend Beamer, which is a LaTeX style. It's pretty customizable, so you should be able to create eye candy with a little investment. But I love its straightforward use of LaTeX syntax. You display a presentation with a pdf viewer such as Acrobat. If LaTeX is installed correctly, there should not be problems with red X's. And you can just cut and paste equations and includegraphics commands from your papers.

If you're not using LaTeX, well, then, never mind!

more than 3 years ago

United Airlines Passengers Stranded By Computer Outage

rmcd Re:Treat yourself and avoid United (74 comments)

The "better option" that the airlines almost never take is to book you on another airline. Of course, that would cost them money as opposed to making you wait for an empty seat, which costs them almost nothing.

more than 3 years ago


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