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Comment: Re:What do I think? (Score 2) 221

by MacTO (#47526865) Attached to: Chromebooks Are Outselling iPads In Schools

Writing by hand remains an essential skill, and will continue to be an essential skill for the foreseeable future. It is true that it is no longer the domain of people who author reports or books, corresponding with friends and businesses, and many other areas. Yet it is still used extensively for note taking, completing forms, and in many situations where it is easier to use the pen than the keyboard (diagrams, equations, etc.).

In time, that may change. In time, it will probably change. Yet I am getting quite tired of reading the handwriting of adults that wouldn't pass the muster of a grade 3 teacher.

Comment: What's old is new again ... (Score 3, Interesting) 176

by MacTO (#47338027) Attached to: Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

MPW did something similar, only they used their own command set. This had a unique benefit: the output from MPW utilities often included commands that could be executed by clicking on the line with your mouse and pressing enter. It worked very well since the utilities themselves generated those executable commands, and users could extend upon the system with their own utilities. (MPW was a development environment after all.)

Here's the thing though, Xiki cannot do that because its trying to use existing Unix utilities and development tools. While the output from that software is usually intended to be used by other software (e.g. via pipes), it is rarely intended to be used by the shell itself. That means Xiki needs to understand how to interact with each piece of software. As a result, it will end up being an unwieldy mess of plugins and unsupported commands.

Don't get me wrong. The Xiki demos were doing some pretty neat and fairly useful stuff. In that sense, it is a success. The problem is that you'll never be able to use the full power of the metaphor because the software that it interacts with was never designed to interact in the way Xiki needs it to.

Comment: Re:What logic! (Score 1) 139

by MacTO (#47335339) Attached to: Norway Scraps Online Voting

Calculators didn't present the risk of undermining mathematics. (Some people suggested that calculators would reduce people's proficiency at arithmetic, but it calculators didn't create invalid results.) Electronic voting does run the risk of undermining democracy. Even if the systems were secure with respect to voter privacy and vote tampering, the mere suspicion could influence people not to vote to change their vote or the question the results of an election.

Comment: Tax, don't ban ... (Score 1) 532

by MacTO (#47329719) Attached to: NYC Loses Appeal To Ban Large Sugary Drinks

I'm not sure if it's appropriate in this case, but I'm far more in favour of sin taxes than outright bans.

Like I said, I don't know if I'm in favour of that in this case.

On the one hand, it is clearly a harm that a person is doing to themselves if it is even a harm at all. (On the latter: there are days when someone may drink excessive amounts of sugar water, even though their nutrition is good over all. Do we really want to place restrictions on that?)

On the other hand, poor nutrition is a huge social problem that industry contributes to. Even if you ignore their attempts to persuade people to make unhealthy choices through advertising (and yes, the bulk of advertising seems to be geared towards unhealthy choices), you also have to consider product availability. Consider the bulk of grocery stores. While they do offer plenty of healthy choices, the bulk of the floor is dedicated to prepared foods (including drinks) that are chock full of sugars. Consider eating out. Many places offer nothing beyond sugar water and coffee. Even the things that pretend to be juice aren't terribly different from soda, outside of the lack of carbonation. When they do offer proper juice, it typically has sugar added -- though certainly not to the degree that non-juices have. So if you don't have a healthy choice, people are usually going to make an unhealthy choice.

Comment: Re:So now we can steal their IP? (Score 5, Insightful) 86

by MacTO (#47297185) Attached to: China Leads In Graphene Patent Applications

I highly doubt that the solution is to abolish patents, though a great deal of patent reform is certainly necessary.

What we should de doing is looking at when patents are and are not useful, and modifying patent law accordingly. A lot of the analysis should be fairly straight forward to do. Patents themselves have to be registered, so we have records. When patent disputes are taken to the courts, we have records. Many, if not most, of the businesses that license patents have to publish financial reports. (Again, there are records.)

Questions can be asked and answered through all of that data. We can look at the optimal duration for patents for different sectors. We can look at what types of patents stimulate innovation, and what types of patents stifle innovation. We can even look at licensing practices in an effort to reduce the burden that patents place upon the courts.

It isn't all or nothing. Patents are neither entirely good, nor entirely bad. We simply need a way to separate the good from the bad so that we can keep the former and discard the latter.

Comment: Re:AP Statistics isn't really computational thinki (Score 1) 155

by MacTO (#47294941) Attached to: Computational Thinking: AP Computer Science Vs AP Statistics?

The AP curriculum has probably changed over the years, but my AP computer science courses were computer science course. Yes, we learned a language. Yet we went beyond that to learn how languages (in general work), how particular algorithms work, as well as how to design and implement various algorithms. While the projects may have been boring by modern standards (i.e. we didn't frame the course in the context of games), the actual content and instruction was exciting.

Comment: Re:22 (Score 2) 370

by MacTO (#47292329) Attached to: Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

That depends. There are various reasons why someone can be out of work. Lack of skill or a poor fit for the job are definitely in the mix. Yet companies definitely go out of business, companies definitely downsize (where getting axed may have more to do with the businesses priorities than your skills), and a change in management at any level may mean job loss for professional or unprofessional reasons. Then there are people who simply want to change careers, because of job satisfaction or advancement rather than because of their ability to perform the job. The latter is definitely the hardest to contend with since you probably don't have the contacts that recognize your abilities or because the people in one part of the industry may not see your skills as transferrable to their part of the industry.

Comment: Re:But (Score 1) 112

by MacTO (#47233239) Attached to: Canadian Supreme Court Delivers Huge Win For Internet Privacy

Certain financial institutions, educational institutions, and governmental institutions keep data on domestic soil simply to ensure that it is covered by Canadian privacy laws. That is true even if it is a foreign company.

That said, I have to wonder how much protection that data would have if the data was stored in Canada but accessed from a foreign nation. Say if the U.S. subsidiary receives a warrant for data stored by the Canadian subsidiary, and the U.S. subsidiary accesses the data in Canada from the U.S..

Comment: Re:Hello there, Captain Obvious (Score 1) 185

If we are going to be honest about things, we should also look at why: neither vendor is enthusiastic about providing complete documentation on the products.

We should also be clear about some of the consequences. Better open source drivers provide a better long term solution under Linux. Yes, this is because Linux developers are somewhat hostile to closed source drivers. On the other hand, it is something that you should consider if you are using Linux.

At the end of the day, the choice depends upon what you're doing. What doesn't matter is a rule that considers a handful of measures. Some will prefer AMD under Linux based upon their priorities, others will prefer nVidia. It is also completely fair to prefer AMD for work computer and nVidia for your games computer; or AMD for your Linux boxes and nVidia for your Windows boxes.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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