"Just the other day, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers said, 'If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using [the grid] for backup.' What happens if a whole bunch of customers start generating their own power and using the grid merely as backup? The EEI report warns of 'irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects' of utilities."
I have just upgraded my machine from Ubuntu 11.04 to 11.10 and everything is broken.
It began with Unity. The horror. If there's a way of finding the main menu, I wasn't able to discover it. Menu bars have entirely disappeared from applications, to be replaced with the mac "menu on top" paradigm, a.k.a. one of the main reasons I've never used a Mac since 1994. You can't even log out of the bloody interface, let alone tweak it. Even the fonts are terrible.
It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to get rid of Unity and replace it with Gnome 3 and I can't say there's really much of a difference in terms of usability. All of my default Gnome 2 desktop settings have been blown out of the water. Completely. My panels and taskbars and lauchers are either deleted or are all over the place. Even if I wanted to change them back, everything is basically uncustomisable as far as I can tell. You can't move objects around in the taskbars. Yes that's right. You can't move objects around in the taskbars.
Is this what a desktop is supposed to feel like?
I feel like my computer window has been turned into a walled garden, like that on an iDink, which I am permitted to carress and fawn over, but have disallowed from making my own in any way. Will I have to download some kind of "App" from the "Ubuntu App Store" to gain back basic functionality? Do I have to dive into arcane settings and ppa just to get back the system which I had and liked only a few hours ago? Do I have to give up and choose Gnome 3, or move to XFCE, or move everything to the shell, or basically waste the next two weeks getting back what I had?
If that's the price of Ubuntu (and it is) then I am leaving.
Ubuntu and Gnome died the moment they allowed the UI designers to take over. The art students, the inveiglers, the smooth talkers, the wild eyed dreamers, the "visionaries", the people who didn't care what they were doing as long as it made them feel talented and superior. These are the people who have designed unusable,confusing systems and interfaces that delete years of carefully customised menus and discourage serious use of computers.
And as for the "boring" people, the programmers, the testers, the package maintainers, the people who listen to the community, those who put real thought and concern for users into their themes and interfaces, the people who don't go to conferences, who communicate with users directly via forum and newsgroup, who sit at their desks working to make distros better, often for no reward at all; what of them? Are they in charge in this brave new work? No. They are cast down and out, by a brigade of bullshitters too busy bopping on their iPods and blogging than in doing useful work.
If you let the wrong people into an organisation or a community, they can destroy it. Ubuntu and Gnome shows that this can happen to distros and open source projects just as easily and quickly as it has happened in the many industrys, countrys, and economies throughout the word. The destroyers will fail upwards, the blazing heat of their incompetence scortching all new pastures dry. The rest of us will be left behind to pick up the pieces and start again. In 5 years time, Ubuntu may be back on the path to being usable again, but I can't wait that long.
I'm thinking of starting off with Mint.
Days before the US presidential election, the Ohio Secretary of State (Republican) directed that an "experimental patch" be installed on voting machines in 39 Ohio counties. Federal law makes it illegal to make any changes in hardware and software to election equipment without it being tested and certified by the Federal Elections Commission. [NOTE: if Brad Blog is not "notable" enough of a source for you, this story is being reported in many other media outlets.]
You Slashdot readers are supposed to know a little something about software and patches and security. What do you think? This sound like "best practices" to you? By the way, John Husted, the Ohio Secretary of State who ordered this "patch" installed, is the guy who tried to stop early voting in Ohio and then told his county clerks to ignore the federal courts when they issued an injunction to put those early voting dates back in place. He's also one of the Republican officials who claimed that the proposed voter ID laws and purges of voter rolls would "deliver" Ohio to the Romney campaign.
I'm a little curious about what any sysadmins who read this and support Romney think of this move.
Jeremiah Cornelius has covered this story, but if you haven't read this article about a journalist who infiltrated the G4S security firm, the private company to whom the security for the London 2012 Olympics has been outsourced, go take a look. It just gets worse and worse.
It's a pretty stunning story, not just the plan to evacuate London, not just the 200,000 body bags that were ordered, but the level of incompetence that G4S has shown thus far.
Ben Fellows, the filmmaker and journalist who went undercover as "âoeLee Hazledean", has recently revealed his true identity when the complete blackout on his story by the mainstream media, and other irregularities, have made him fear for his life.
The great Swedish alt-blogcasters Red Ice Radio also have some pretty shocking coverage (warning: includes some rather out-there material, but still interesting). In their 2 1/2 hour special, they get opinions from some pretty impressive people, but also from some, shall-we-say "less conventional" characters like David Icke. But even those interviewees have some fascinating insights (I happen to think Icke is not nearly as loony as he is portrayed). Depending on your tolerance for challenging consensus reality, YMMV.
As any Libertarian will tell you, there's no reason a CEO shouldn't be paid 2000 times the amount of an average worker, because they're worth it.
Keep that in mind when you read the story of Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson. It's a tale of how mistreated the 1% are in Obama's America:
When Duke Energy announced its merger with Progress Energy last year, the two companies agreed that Progress CEO Bill Johnson would assume the same position at the combined company. So he did: On June 27, Johnson signed a three-year contract to helm Duke. When the merger went into effect on July 2, he assumed the position of CEO.
And then, on July 3 at midnight, Johnson resigned
As the article tells us, Bill Johnson was forced out by the board after the merger, but just imagine the job he did in that one day as CEO when you read about his compensation package for that 24 hours:
Despite his short-lived tenure, Mr. Johnson will receive exit payments worth as much as $44.4 million, according to Duke. That includes $7.4 million in severance, a nearly $1.4 million cash bonus, a special lump-sum payment worth up to $1.5 million and accelerated vesting of his stock awards, according to a Duke regulatory filing Tuesday night. Mr. Johnson gets the lump-sum payment as long as he cooperates with Duke and doesnâ(TM)t disparage his former employer, the filing said.
Under his exit package, Mr. Johnson also will receive approximately $30,000 to reimburse him for relocation expenses.
Well, thank God for that $30k in "relocation expenses". Renting a U-Haul isn't cheap.
Like the saying goes "The rich are different than the rest of us. They are completely without shame." I want to know what the board of directors was doing the day this benefits package was approved.
But remember, according to Mitt Romney, Bill Johnson is a "job creator". Except, during the 24 very busy hours that Johnson was CEO, he laid off 900 workers. I wonder how much that comes to per laid-off worker?
Most people have read "1066 and all that: a memorable history of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 good things, 5 bad kings and 2 genuine dates" (one of the longest book titles I have ever encountered) and some may have encountered "The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody", but these are the exceptions and not the rule. What interesting - but accurateish - takes on history have other Slashdotters encountered?
The Olympics is all about World Peace, we are told, but Charles Stross isn't quite convinced.
The science fiction writer and blogger is a little concerned about the extent to which Britain will go to keep corporate sponsors happy.
The Olympics: It's a movement. And everybody needs a movement, every day.
The G-Bread Man breaks it down for you.
I had to double-check to make sure this wasn't an Onion article. It appears that a Wyoming state legislature has advance (yes, there was a vote) to prepare for the worst. They want to create a task force to prepare Wyoming for the total social and economic collapse of the United States (aka, the Zombie Apocalypse).
The best part of the story, and the part you just can't make up, is that the preparations include the formation of a Wyoming Navy . As reported in the Wyoming news source m.trib.com,
The task force would look at the feasibility of Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.
Of course, an aircraft carrier costs about $6billion, but first there's the little issue of Wyoming being landlocked. The purchase of a submarine was not mentioned.
Read more in-depth analysis here.
Is anyone surprised that the amendment creating this task force was written and sponsored by Republicans? It's worth noting that Wyoming, the least populous state in the US gets back $1.11 for every $1.00 it sends to Washington in federal taxes.
Guardian photo-journalist Adam Gabbatt was told "No press today for security reasons" for the Occupy Movement's November 17 Day of Action.
Think about that for just a few seconds. News helicopters are being told to stay out of the Wall Street area according to WNBC radio. What is it we're not supposed to see?
After the bankruptcy "reform" of the last decade (which only applied to the lower income levels), we knew it was only a matter of time before the return of debtors' prison and forced work camps. There was never any question that this was where Reaganomics would take us.
I guess I just didn't expect that we'd see it so soon. When the new privatized prison system meets debtors prisons, something very very ugly is going to emerge. And it appears it's going to happen within the next couple of years.
If you are very very wealthy, and you find yourself unable to pay your debt, the government will force citizens to make you whole. If you are part of the working or lower classes and find yourself unable to pay your debt, you have become an enemy of the New Corporate State and will be treated accordingly.
Unless there's a system failure (which is a distinct possibility), Jeremiah Cornelius, an iconoclastic and highly prolific Slashdot journal writer has packed it in and closed his account. Links to his journals are dead and his account only shows the UID number, not his user name.
While sometimes his opinions were the kind that made me uncomfortable (which is something, being iconoclastic and a pain in the ass bordering on the trollish myself), I will miss his energy and his strongly held sincere beliefs.
If he's gone elsewhere, I'd like to know which online community a guy like him would join. We;ve lost some long-time Slashdot users recently. I hate to see a good one go.
The topic on Woz inspired me to post something about the ideas I've been percolating for some time. These are based on personal teaching experience, teaching experience by siblings and father at University level and by my grandfather at secondary school, 6th form college and military acadamy. (There's been a lot of academics in the family.)
Anyways, I'll break this down into sections. Section 1 deals with the issues of class size and difference in ability. It is simply not possible to teach to any kind of meaningful standard a group of kids of wildly differing ability. Each subject should be streamed, such that people of similar ability are grouped together -- with one and only one exception: you cannot neglect the social aspect of education. Some people function well together, some people dysfunction well together. You really want to maintain the former of those two groups as much as possible, even if that means having a person moved up or down one stream.
Further, not everyone who learns at the same pace learns in the same way. Streams should be segmented according to student perspective, at least to some degree, to maximize the student's ability to fully process what they are learning. A different perspective will almost certainly result in a different stream. Obviously, you want students to be in the perspective that leads them to be in the fastest stream they can be in.
There should be sufficient divisions such that any given stream progresses with the least turbulence possible. Laminar flow is good. There should also be no fewer than one instructor per ten students at a secondary school level. You probably want more instructors in primary education, less at college/university, with 1:10 being the average across all three.
Section 2: What to teach. I argue that the absolute fundamental skills deal in how to learn, how to research, how to find data, how to question, how to evaluate, how to apply reasoning tools such as deduction, inference, lateral thinking, etc, in constructive and useful ways. Without these skills, education is just a bunch of disconnected facts and figures. These skills do not have to be taught directly from day 1, but they do have to be a part of how things are taught and must become second-nature before secondary education starts.
Since neurologists now believe that what is learned alters the wiring of the brain, the flexibility of the brain and the adult size of the brain, it makes sense that the material taught should seek to optimize things a bit. Languages seem to boost mental capacity and the brain's capacity to be fault-tolerant. It would seem to follow that teaching multiple languages of different language families would be a Good Thing in terms of architecturing a good brain. Memorization/rote-learning seems to boost other parts of the brain. It's not clear what balance should be struck, or what other brain-enhancing skills there might be, but some start is better than no start at all.
Section 3: How to test. If it's essential to have exams (which I doubt), the exam should be longer than could be completed by anyone - however good - within the allowed time, with a gradual increase in the difficulty of the questions. Multiple guess choice should be banned. The mean and median score should be 50% and follow a normal distribution. Giving the same test to an expert system given the same level of instruction as the students should result in a failing grade, which I'd put at anything under 20% on this scale. (You are not testing their ability to be a computer. Not in this system.)
Each test should produce two scores - the raw score (showing current ability) and the score after adjusting for the anticipated score based on previous test results (which show the ability to learn and therefore what should have been learned this time - you want the third-order differential and therefore the first three tests cannot be examined this way). The adjusted score should be on the range of -1 (learned nothing new, consider moving across to a different perspective in the same stream) to 0 (learned at expected rate) to +1 (learning too fast for the stream, consider moving up). Students should not be moved downstream on a test result, only ever on a neutral evaluation of some kind.
Section 4: Fundamentals within any given craft, study or profession should be taught as deeply and thoroughly as possible. Those change the least and will apply even as the details they are intertwined with move in and out of fashion. "Concrete" skills should be taught broadly enough that there is never a serious risk of unemployability, but also deeply enough that the skills have serious market value.
Section 5: Absolutely NO homework. It's either going to be rushed, plagarized or paid-for. It's never going to be done well and it serves no useful purpose. Year-long projects are far more sensible as they achieve the repetitious use of a skill that homework tries to do but in a way that is immediately practical and immediately necessary.
Lab work should likewise not demonstrate trivial stuff, but through repetition and variation lead to the memorization of the theory and its association with practical problems of the appropriate class.
Section 6: James Oliver's advice on diet should be followed within reason - and the "within reason" bit has more to do with what food scientists and cookery scientists discover than with any complaints.
Section 7: Go bankrupt. This is where this whole scheme falls over -- to do what I'm proposing seriously would require multiplying the costs of maintaining and running a school by 25-30 with no additional income. If it had a few billion in starting capital and bought stocks in businesses likely to be boosted by a high-intensity K-PhD educational program, it is just possible you could reduce the bleeding to manageable proportions. What you can never do in this system is turn a profit, although all who are taught will make very substantial profits from such a system.
Years ago, when my wife was finishing her PhD in Math, I helped her with putting her dissertation into the required format, which was a TeX document. The main thing I remember about it was how much trouble it was just to lay out a document. It was hard enough for her to do all the very difficult Math work and get ready for her PhD defense, but to then require her to learn TeX just seemed like piling on.
The other day, my daughter, who's now a Math grad student, came to me and asked if I knew anything about TeX. It caused a sickening deja vu as I realized that after all this time, TeX is still the required format for technical documents.
Now, I understand the elegance of TeX, and I can appreciate the need for a standard way of typesetting such documents. I've seen the Chinese students taking class notes in TeX and I'm aware of the place TeX holds in the Math, physics and engineering communities.
But jesus christ on roller skates, can no one come up with something a little easier to learn and use? I'm a musician and composer and arranger. I score films. Creating formatting and typesetting a music manuscript is at least as exacting and formalized as setting up a document to show some equations, some graphs and a figure or two. I've got a handful of excellent professional software that makes writing (and printing) music as easy as writing a business letter. I don't have to write code just to put in a D.S. al coda for heaven's sake.
When I was working on my own dissertation decades ago in critical theory, I remember using the DOS version of Nota Bene, because that was what my adviser used and by gawd, that was what I was going to use. It was like an even more baroque version of Wordperfect with all sorts of code and macros and packages for diacritical marks. But the world has moved on since then and now there's open office to fill all my document needs.
I guess I'm just venting a bit, thinking about my daughter having to learn tex on top of everything else she's got going on, and I know I'm going to get hit with questions, which means I'm going to have to go back and brush up. I'm about to install LateX on my machine for the second time in over 20 years and if nothing else, can I get some encouragement? Maybe an explanation of why time has stood still in this one area?
Now let me go get some aspirin.