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Comment Re:Axe job (Score 5, Insightful) 338 338

It doesn't really matter that it's pre alpha, or whatever designation you want to give it. A platform touted as being a secure replacement for facebook ought to consist of secure code from day 1. Security needs to be built into the bones of the program, and If you read the article, you'd see that the errors made were pretty egregious. Fact is, any programmer worth his or her salt would not have started out with code like this with a plan to fix it later in future releases, they'd get it right from the very beginning. That they made these mistakes so early on speaks wonders about how inexperienced these programmers were (and hopefully are no longer now that they've learned their lesson). I'm still rooting for Diaspora but am a little disappointed by this.

Comment Re:Physicist speaking (Score 3, Insightful) 284 284

I think the public media attacks string theory on the grounds of its impossibility to test because they don't know any better. Those of us in physics and math have very real and strong arguments against string theory that have little to do with testing.

Comment Re:prove it (Score 5, Funny) 371 371

Not because I say so, because of the arguments I laid forth in my reply.

I wonder what percentage of administrators, professors and students at other universities also speak of grade inflation. Maybe less, maybe more, but I don't see why Harvard is getting singled out. You say "various studies have demonstrated this to be true." What studies?

I actually think the Harvard classes of late are getting even better. 20-30 years ago, they weren't nearly as competitive as they are now. Where is the proof that the class of 2007 has higher grades than the classes of 1990? What about *in comparison to other schools*? This is really the point that matters, not inflation over time. It's really the exchange rate that counts.

Finally, careful who you call a Harvard alum. I am speaking only about Harvard College, not HBS or the law school. And yes, most of our congressmen and senators are pretty fucking educated, actually.

Comment Re:one step closer to drive thru degrees (Score 1) 371 371

This is exactly how it works at Harvard. About halfway through the year, the registrar will publish the exam schedule. You can tell beforehand if you're going to have conflicts, because when you first register for a class, it will come with an "exam group," but that has nothing to do with whether or not the the class actually has an official 3-hour final exam, or when the exam will be. Anyhow, the registrar hates the students with a burning passion. Every single year I was there 2005-2009, the final exams in the biggest four or so classes would be held on the last two days of exam period. I don't know why they did this, but it kept most of the student body on campus during the freezing-cold Boston January (until last year, final exams were held after the Christmas break), and stopped us from enjoying an extended intersession. I still hate those bastards.

Comment Re:one step closer to drive thru degrees (Score 1) 371 371

Yeah, I don't know where you're getting those numbers, but they're complete bullshit. My family income was under 100k, and they had us paying somewhere between 40-50%. We asked why they weren't giving me more aid, and their answer was that we owned our house and that we should mortgage it. I kid you not. There is a vast gulf between Harvard's published financial aid levels and what they actually give to the student. Oh, and around $3000 of what they give to you is actually money you're supposed to earn yourself with a "term-time job".

Comment Re:prove it (Score 5, Funny) 371 371

Anyone who tells you there's grade inflation at Harvard is lying. Put the best students from all of the world in a university, where most work their asses off, all of whom have fantastic educations prior to arriving, and these students are going to get good grades. There's not a single student at Harvard who got an A or an A- (they don't give out A+'s) who didn't deserve it. Granted, it's hard to get a C grade, but that's to be expected considering how fucking amazing these students are. Compare a student who has an "A" average from Harvard to a student who has an "A" average from a state school. They are both probably great students, but which one do you think is better? (Achieving a 4.0 from Harvard is almost unheard-of) How about comparing "B" students? Do you think a B student from Harvard is worse than a B student at another institution. I doubt it. And the "remedial course" you're talking about is probably Expos 10. It's not a remedial course, though most students test out of it. There aren't any other courses one can test out of (there may be department-by-department policies), besides a language, but a first-year language course is hardly "remedial". Honestly, I have no idea what that article you quoted is talking about. That student you quoted? Probably very smart but lazy, and can get by without working very hard. Good for him. Maybe he has very high standards for himself. Most Harvard students do. He was also probably bragging, in some convoluted manner. Again, most Harvard students do. Finally, your statistic on honors is out of date. Far fewer students receive honors now. I did, and I'm damned proud of it.

Comment Re:one step closer to drive thru degrees (Score 1) 371 371

I'd mod you down if I had any mod points. But I don't, so I'll tell you why you're wrong instead. Harvard isn't getting rid of final exams. Usually, only the very large classes will make use of the 3 hour registrar-run final exams, but other classes have in-class finals, take-home finals, final projects, etc.
The Internet

People Were More Likely To Google Themselves This Year 160 160

Ponca City, We Love You writes "More than twice as many Americans googled themselves in 2006 than five years previous — and many are googling their friends and romantic interests as well, according to a report released ecently by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The survey shows that the percentage of US adult Internet users who have looked for information about themselves through Google or another search engine has more than doubled in the past five years (pdf) from 22 percent in August, 2001 to 47 percent in December, 2006. Only 3 percent of internet self-googlers say they Google themselves regularly, 22 percent say 'every once in a while,' and three-quarters say they have googled themselves once or twice. The original report, 'Digital Footprints,' contains many more interesting observations (pdf)."

Hummer Greener Than Prius? 920 920

An anonymous reader sends in a story from Central Connecticut State University, claiming that a Prius takes more energy to manufacture than a Hummer — 50% more. In addition, the article claims that the Prius costs $3.25 per mile over its expected lifespan of 100,000 miles compared to $1.95 per mile for the Hummer. The article gets its data from a study by CNW Marketing called Dust to Dust, which is an attempt to account for all the costs of vehicles, from manufacture through operation through repair and disposal. The $3.25/mile cost quoted for the Prius is the 2005 number; for 2006 it is $2.87. This improvement pulled the Prius below the straight industry average — all the other hybrids are still above that average. And the Hummer is not listed at all for 2006. Update: 03/21 00:44 GMT by J : You might want to take those figures with a grain of salt; I don't think anyone's seen the supporting data. Read on for details.
Hardware Hacking

What Bizarre IT Setups Have You Seen? 874 874

MicklePickle wonders: "I was talking to a co-worker the other day about the history of our company, (which shall remain nameless), and he started reminiscing about some of the IT hacks that our company did. Like running 10BaseT down a storm water drain to connect two buildings, using a dripping tap to keep the sewerage U-bend full of water in a computer room, (huh?). And some not so strange ones like running SCSI out to 100m, and running a major financial system on a long forgotten computer in a cupboard. I know that there must be a plethora of IT hacks around. What are some you've seen?"

Brain damage is all in your head. -- Karl Lehenbauer