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Comment: Re:Other than salary, how the hell $100,000 (Score 1) 87

by EmperorOfCanada (#49383907) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC
I have watched a bunch of Stanford lectures and they are a guy at the back of the class with a camera. I have taken a coursera course on finance, cryptograpy, astronomy, mathematical thinking, and gamification and they were all basically a good webcam with no camera operator.

The great courses company does seem to have some pretty good production where they have a camera man, and at least one animator. The lighting is pretty good and I suspect that there is lots of editing. But those might be some of the highest production quality courses out there. MathTutorDVD which is pretty good is a guy with a whiteboard.

I suspect that $100,000 is a BS number that comes either from extreme government waste or it is to generate funding that will allow for extreme government waste.

Comment: High School first then collage (Score 1, Insightful) 138

by EmperorOfCanada (#49383883) Attached to: The End of College? Not So Fast
If I were a kid in around grade 9 I would presently be MOOCing until I turned blue. My goal would be to basically bypass High School. At this point what are the various certificates good for? I don't think that anyone yet really knows. But I suspect that they will be worth more and more and definitely will be worth more than most half assed high schools. I can certainly say without hesitation that I have seen some online courses MOOC, the great courses, plus others that blow my old HS teachers clean out of the water and certainly blow most of my daughters' teachers clean out of the water. (and yes many online things suck too)

But if a grade 9 student has 10 or 20 MIT / Stanford courses under their belt and does well on the SATs then what university can honestly reject that student?

Right now it is all a little hazy but I suspect that a point will be crossed where quite simply the high schools will begin to lose the best and the brightest. Not the majority just the cream. This will leave the high schools with the mediocre and the crap students. Then the pressure will be on the better of the mediocre students to follow online as well leaving a pretty poor lineup of students. This will then start to whittle away at the better teachers who just can't keep going without at least the occasional success in their class.

The percentage of students who will no longer attend highschool still won't amount to a huge number but what will remain of the high school system will be pretty depressingly bad. Plus I just know that the officials will dumb down the standards to keep up with the ever lowering bar. I foresee the first sign of my prediction coming true when the school systems try to put pressure on the universities to not accept students on MOOCs alone or to try to make it so that you can't write the SATs without being registered with a bricks and mortar high school.

But in the very long term when the various online educational systems have been somewhat perfected I do see a day when many people are faced with the choice (or option) to go to their local po-dunk collage or take course from something with a kickass name. I don't doubt that a major part of higher education happens outside of the classroom but the simple reality is that many people are questing for that piece of paper to further their job opportunities and have various obsicals in their way such as money. Online education won't wipe out the universities or anything so silly but it could see some of the lesser universities lose a serious chunk of their students.

Also I see a demographic who will simply say, "OK I will do year one online and then the other three getting the campus experience, OK I will do the last two years getting the campus experience, OK the last year will definitely be the campus year. Look I have a degree, I wish I had done at least one year on campus." But I also see another demographic much like the one that avoided high school not able to go to the kick ass named universities and not willing to slum it in their local school, and thus doing the online thing even more.

But that all said, I think that where it will be most interesting is that right now it is very very very hard to get into a top tier school. But what if you have been taking MOOCs from a top tier school and have been kicking ass and taking names. Does that qualify you for a top tier school more than someone with a top tier SAT?

Then employers are going to be a whole other thing. Which would they rather see, a top tier certificate or a local podunk degree?

Comment: This guy is missing the point (Score 3, Insightful) 367

by EmperorOfCanada (#49379599) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous
Great engineering or science is art. If you look at the evolution of bridges they have become more and more beautiful as newer technologies have been developed and applied. Where bridges tend to be ugly is when the engineering is old school and workman like.

Also it tends to be the muddy thinking of the humanities that can drive horrible disasters of thinking. Things like trickle down economics had pretty much zero real math behind it. Plus many of the worst dictators in history had humanities and/or arts educations along with many of their worst henchmen. Things like the scientific method are critical to great political policy making, not law degrees where rhetoric and finding a misplaced comma in a written law lets your serial killer client skate on the charges.

Often when horrible things happen and science gets blamed it is actually an artistic interpretation of science at the source. Eugenics would be a perfect example of simpletons applying their interpretation of science.

A great example of this sort of crap would be how religious people are trying to drive intelligent design into the education system through a terrible interpretation of how science works.

I have zero problem with having someone with a hard core arts degree have some input on the building of a bridge in things like choosing he colours or picking from a group of equal designs, but I really really don't want them designing he whole thing and then having the engineers find a kludge that might keep it from falling down.

But where this guy really falls down along with many STEM pushing policy makers is that while it would be nice for the average school kid to have a better grasp of the physical world around them what is sorely lacking is a place for kids who can excel at science to thrive. A great example would be my daughter's high school. They have science requirements to graduate; fine. But in a 1,200 kid school there is no science fair this year; yet the school budgeted $50,000 for a football team that generates zero revenue.

What it boils down to are two things. Take all the art out of your life and see how you are living. Now take all the technology out of your life and see how that goes. One interesting factoid is that most people access their art through technology anyway and the art is often massively reliant upon technology for its generation.

STEM is not an either or with art. But art is largely a not without STEM. STEM is the difference between the third world and the first. I think that much of the anti STEM sentiment comes from those jealous that in most cases the arts alone leave you in the economic dust either as a person and especially as a country.

Comment: Other than salary, how the hell $100,000 (Score 1) 87

by EmperorOfCanada (#49378173) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC
How the hell is it costing $100,000 per course? Most coursera courses are just some guy talking to a webcam or a fixed camera. Most of the stanford courses(many very good) are just a guy working a camera from the back of the class with the instructor miked up. So unless the check boxes on the quizzes cost $200 each something is fishy with this number.

Comment: Before I finish this my server will be attacked! (Score 1) 49

by EmperorOfCanada (#49325175) Attached to: Nobody Is Sure What Should Count As a Cyber Incident
In the time it will take me to type this post I will get at least one wp-admin request from my server (without WordPress) plus I will probably have an assortment of other odd requests looking to exploit various server weaknesses for web servers that are different than mine; Various cgi attacks and so on.

Needless to say these aren't terribly troubling, generally the worst they do is to pollute my logs with crap. The main problem with these sort of "attacks" is that fear mongers will use them to justify giving them lots of consulting money.

What does annoy me about these attacks is that while they are fairly ineffective I would still love to see a concerted effort to nail the people who do them to the wall. I see it like those people who aim laser pointers at airplanes.

That said, there are genuine attacks from sophisticated but unless the companies involved have political pull these attacks too go unpunished. What bothers me the most is that these attacks originate from a very few countries. How about we shut those countries internet connections down for a few days until those attacks stop.

Comment: Re:I see a problem here and it isn't Snowden/Germa (Score 1) 337

by EmperorOfCanada (#49302009) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden
They broke existing laws, were caught using existing techniques, and no need to mass surveil the rest of us. The last two caught in BC were basically being pushed into doing what they did by the investigators who are desperate for a win.

The ones in Halifax wouldn't have been caught by anything short of the most severe privacy violations and massive all encompassing dragnets.

Comment: I see a problem here and it isn't Snowden/Germany (Score 5, Insightful) 337

by EmperorOfCanada (#49301385) Attached to: German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden
In Canada there is huge pressure from the US for us to pass bill C-51 which might as well be called Orwell's law. There is endless talk about this country being dangerous or that country. But it seems to me there is exactly one country on this planet that is causing problems for just about every democracy or not.

What I love about these tools that think that they should be able to spy on us to "protect" us. Yet in Canada we have a motorcycle gang that all wear special clothing, have special tattoos, and hang out in known HQs; yet our national police force can't shut them down with every law needed already in place. Prisons which have pretty well no constitutional protections for privacy or intercepted communications are filled with drugs. So even if they manage to completely remove privacy and rights they have proven themselves incompetent at doing their jobs with simplistic criminals.

What hope do they have against actual terrorists with an IQ over 90? Or lone wolves who communicate with exactly nobody?

My assessment of all these laws is that they are there to protect vested interests. The politicians want to protect their friends in big business in the name of national security/stability. But my guess is that they mostly want to protect themselves from the erosion of power that is happening through the internet where the press and other investigators can find out what corruption is happening. Thus the ideal situation is that whistleblowers will be nervous about contacting the press because they don't know if their communications are secure. That even politicians will be nervous about trying to reduce the power of the security services because not only might they be listening but that the security services will be well placed to leak data about they or their friends.

Remember that this sort of power is very insidious. For instance when the government goes to appoint someone to a watchdog or judicial position that will oversee the security services the security service does a "background check" this is not only to make sure that the person isn't an enemy spy but to protect the politicians from embarrassment if it turns out that their potential appointee is unsavoury in some way. This could be something like anti women views or even something like they are 60 and often date 20 somethings. Thus if the person is going to a hanging judge and is happy to give the security service free reign they can give the person a clean bill of health during the "background check" but if the person has long been a defender of privacy and generally anti authoritarian then they will compile a list of rumours and innuendos that suggest the person will be an embarrassment.

Thus as we hear about judge after judge giving their blessings to insanely unconstitutional behaviour, and we hear about watchdogs that aren't watching keep in mind about who vetted these people in the first place.

What scares the shit out of these people is when they don't have control over them as in the case of politicians in other countries. This is where they have to play hardball. But my simple question is how many politicians in various G7 countries have had information "leaked" about them by the US security services? Leaked during elections where they were successfully running against right wing hardliners that the US would prefer to win?

Comment: There is always that one damn piece of software (Score 1) 385

by EmperorOfCanada (#49289097) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Laptop To Support Physics Research?
There is always that one damn piece of software. In nearly every endeavour there is a single piece of software that absolutely demands that you have a certain OS. That is this single application is the core of what you do thus having it on a VM would be silly as all your data might feed in or out of that. Sometimes you can be lucky and that that software is multi platform such as matlab. But most circuit simulation software is Windows only. Then there are things like 3DStudio that are also Windows only. Thus if some application is like this is the core of your universe then you are pretty much committed to Windows. But then there are other things that will run on most OSs but run better on the Unix type systems. Python would be a great example. Yes with some arm twisting it will run fine on Windows but is way happier on Mac or Linux.

Then there is the peer group. What do they run. You don't really want to be the odd one out even if they aren't using the best choice.

So what it all really boils down to is what software is critical on a day to day basis? And what do the peers use? These two questions will pretty much answer the question.

Comment: Re:No plans to use Hertz!!! (Score 1) 188

The key is that they will probably lose more money than the pittance they were hoping to gain. Also keep in mind that the MBAs who had nothing to do with this will use it to stab the other MBAs in the back.

Also it might serve as a warning to any other companies trying to pull that crap. Plus we techies will say, "Oh you rented a Hertz, you know they have spy cams in them?"

Plus I have had some pretty non techie types ask me about the bitcoin thing in utorrent. Plus every single one of my daughters' friend keep tape over their laptop web cams; not one of whom could make a hello world.

Comment: No plans to use Hertz!!! (Score 5, Interesting) 188

I love these MBA types who come up with these pretty much psychopathic ways to make a few extra bucks and don't realize that people will have a violently negative reaction.

I call this spreadsheet thinking; that is where a person has a spreadsheet showing the millions of car rentals and then adds a new line item where they make a few extra pennies per rental and it makes the bottom line go up by a nice jump. Then the MBAs give each other nice bonuses based upon this "brilliant" plan. What they don't have is a line item where their customers will actually pay more to use a different rental company that doesn't have cameras in their cars. The MBAs will just call them a few "irrational" actors who need to "get a life". Then when the media gets a hold of this they will say that "It was blown out of proportion" and eventually they will retreat saying that they need to "reposition" the technology.

The lesson the company won't learn is to stop hiring psychopathic MBAs.

Comment: The elites will lose, the uber elites will win (Score 1) 172

Up until now if someone had an elite horse there was a limited amount of breeding it could do but that limit was still a huge number of horses. Thus most of the racing elite could get a taste of that DNA on their ranch. This kept out the riff-raff but still allowed the fairly rich to play. But with full on Cloning this will leave all but the richest unable to pay for this. For most of the horses that result from breeding a great horse just aren't champions.

But even worse is that if a real uber-champion comes along the normal course of events is that it would have a few good years and then be put out to breed. Now a very rich person could breed a new copy pretty much every year so that at least one copy of the uber-champion is ready to run. This person might not even sell the copies, just keep running them and keep wining.

So think of hockey team where they are able to buy only the entire line up of the best players. But then these players literally never retire.

So while these guys obviously have no real idea how DNA works; what they are doing is trying to twist reality into a form that suits their needs. The general rule of thumb is the further you bend reality the worse it hurts when it snaps back into your face.

Comment: Science Mafia (Score 1, Flamebait) 320

I know people who are recent PhDs in various sciences and with only a few exceptions they have real trouble finding financing that doesn't end up going to various vested interests within their research institutions. Basically once it looks like money is coming their way all of a sudden a handful of boomer tenured professors have their hands deep into their pockets. Without it being a written rule these junior PhDs suddenly need "mentoring" or some other bullshit excuse. But when the budget is laid out the boomer will get a massive salary compared to the PhD who's research attracted the money in the first place. But then suddenly other things appear where the boomer will be the first name on any research. This is only the tip of the iceburg where the funding agencies are also cajoled into giving the money to the institution for them to disperse which means that even the boomer professor won't do well.

But in a very few instances I have seen where the money literally went to the PhD and he could even switch institutions and the money will follow. In those cases the university is 90% happy to let the PhD write the rules but still pressure for some of the money to find its way to a few boomers.

A common overlap is that the boomers to whom they try and direct the money to are also the same ones who usually are the ones who wrote the textbook that the students are forced to buy.

One great expression is: "Science progresses one funeral at a time." and I have seen this very much in action where the above are the success stories. The more likely scenario is that the younger PhD is looking for money to basically prove the boomers discoveries wrong or incomplete. The boomers are consulted as "experts" prior to a funding decision and they say that they might as well fund paranormal studies. Thus the younger PhDs are not allowed to explore the new and the only money goes to confirming what is "known".

Then at the other end of the research (assuming it is funded) is when they go to publish and the "anonymous" reviewers are those boomers with a vested interest in the research never seeing the light of day. So instead of being published in Nature they are relegated to publications one step up from a high school science fair.

But then there is one last FU waiting for younger researchers where they will publish something fundamental in a third rate journal only to have a "respected elder" in their field effectively republish the same results in a major journal and have that publication be the one that is heavily cited.

The last layer of stupid is where a few of the top schools seem to have the ears of the media. So if they come up with a solar cell that is 5% in one way while much worse in 20 other ways they will make the science news in many publications as "revolutionizing" solar power. But someone in a 2nd or 3rd tier university who comes up with a new solar cell that is 5% better in a few ways and as good as in all other ways will be ignored. This is critical because this is where new corporate funding often comes from.

But once in an extreme blue moon someone young and hungry gets out there and sets the world on fire. This despite so many layers of old school thinking these few bright lights do manage to squeak through. This is why science is so very off the rails. Most of the institutions don't exist to further real science but to ensure the tenure of those who have put in the decades and are "entitled" to their security.

Comment: Opportunity for a cleaner watch (Score 2) 389

I love the idea of a dumb-ish watch or a brilliant watch; But not something in the middle. I have looked at the Apple watch talk and it seems that you will still need your phone yet you will have not a whole lot of battery life.

Right now I want a watch that basically gives me minor tips as to what is going on with my phone. Texts, the time, the date, appointment reminders, and maybe directions from a running GPS route(all coming from my phone). That is about it. I don't need a map, I don't need to schedule appointments, I don't need health crap, I don't need to send texts, I don't need video, I don't need to take pictures, and just about anything else. For those features I have a phone that is really good.

This way my watch can be thin, simple, and have a great battery life.

Eventually (when the tech is ready)I want my watch to be my phone so that in theory I can wear it alone and be able to do a scaled down version of most of what I do on my phone now. Then I want to carry a screen thing that talks to my watch to access its features. But I only want this when the battery life is at least as good as my phone is now.

So if the Swiss are smart they will go for simplicity and elegance as a substitute for the gold plated pickup truck that apple plans on selling.

That said, Apple is going to sell a bazillion of these things and make piles of money; which is a good thing for a company. I just hope that they eventually go for simplicity or that someone else does; which will be a good thing for me; and maybe the Swiss.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.