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Comment: Paying for channels we don't watch (Score 4, Informative) 329

by Pollux (#49564155) Attached to: ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles

You pay for channels you don't want so you can watch the few channels you do want.

The communications director at a local cable service provider once told me the problem with ESPN: it's the most expensive channel in their entire cable lineup. They would love to separate it out and treat it a-la-carte like HBO, but their agreements don't allow for it. Either everyone gets it, or no one does. And he said everyone gets it, because whenever the feed goes out for that channel, their switchboards light up like a Christmas tree. (He also mentioned that the other channel that customers most hate to lose is Lifetime, though that's not nearly as expensive.)

It's extortion, plain and simple. Though ESPN is only partly to blame...the NFL, NBA, and NCAA are also guilty for making game broadcasting rights so pricy.

Comment: I got this far into the article... (Score 2) 352

by Pollux (#49557549) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher

I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. ...And I stopped. This guy doesn't get it.

You could have the most engaging, informative lesson on the face of the planet, and kids may still not listen to it. Maybe they didn't get much sleep last night. Perhaps they ate at McDonalds for breakfast and have a sugar rush. Sometimes they feel depressed, because they just broke up with their significant other. Maybe the topic is about mathematics, a subject that's just difficult to understand. There's a possibility the student is dyslexic. And this is not even the tip of the iceberg.

Generally, humans need inspiration, and they are best inspired by other humans, education no exception. There is a small subset of students who possess enough initiative and tenacity that, even at a young age, they find success by their own merits. But the majority of students face challenges that interfere with their motivation to learn. They need to be coached through these challenges, actions requiring insight into the human psyche, something computers have yet to achieve.

To draw a parallel, do we yet see any high school sports teams being coached by a computer? Shouldn't a computer be better equipped to analyze plays, to determine strengths and weaknesses of players, and to determine strategies that have the greatest probability of success? What does the coach have that the computer doesn't?

Comment: Past NSF involvement (Score 4, Informative) 19

by Pollux (#49426801) Attached to: The Cyberlearning Technologies Transforming Education

For those who can't remember this far back, we have the National Science Foundation to thank for CORE-Plus, SIMMS, The Interactive Mathematics Program, and the Connected Mathematics Project, along with other curricula otherwise known as "Leftist Math" that really caught on in the late 90's. While their intentions were good, and their involvement in creating new math programs helped reshape much needed reforms in how mathematics was taught, the programs pushed the pendulum too far in the opposite direction. (I'm speaking as a mathematics teacher who instructed students in CORE-Plus and CMP.)

As much as I am frustrated with the current methods of "integrating" technology into classrooms, given their past track record, I'm skeptical as to how the NSF can improve it.

Comment: Don't Blame the DoE (Score 2, Interesting) 201

Corruption is "massive in the DoE"? Really? I don't think your premise is common knowledge, so please cite a few sources.

The DoE doesn't pass any laws; it enforces the ones passed by Congress. And as it's a cabinet-level department, Congress approves all cabinet appointees, so blame them on both fronts. And while the DoE does a lot of things, its central mission, and its reason for its establishment, is to assure access to equal educational opportunity for every individual. Take the DoE away, and we've lost the primary means of enforcement against educational discrimination of children in our nation. Even if you do happen to somehow prove that the DoE is full of corruption, I don't think you want to throw that baby out with the bathwater.

Speaking with 10 years of experience in public K-12 schools, blame lies with the superintendent. Superintendents are the leaders of a district, and they can and often do set a strong tone of expectations that are carried out by administrators, including principals, which then trickle down to teachers and support staff. There's no doubt in my mind that the superintendent, tacitly if not directly, created this cheating culture in Atlanta. We can blame the law all we want for encouraging the genesis of such an environment, but that's like blaming cheese for mold growth. Yes, an optimal environment was created for this cheating scandal to take root and grow, but it was disgusting school leaders like Dr. Hall that caused it to happen.

Comment: 4/1 Story Recommendations (Score 3, Funny) 60

by Pollux (#49387589) Attached to: Mutinous Humans Murder Peaceful Space-going AI

Let's help out our editors! Let's propose 4/1 stories that we'd like to see, and we just mod up/down good ideas & bad ideas. Maybe they'll take notice.

Good 4/1 stories:

Slashdot Beta code adopted for official North Korea website.
Bill Gates first in line at Apple Store to buy Gold iWatch.
World returns to normal as Hell, Michigan, begins to thaw.

Comment: Mod parent up (Score 2) 318

There's no better comment that succinctly states why fully autonomous killer robots are a bad idea.

Another great example is the first eight minutes of the 2014 version of Robocop. Satire at its best, and Samuel L. Jackson doesn't disappoint. (Ignore the rest of the was terrible. But the first eight minutes were absolutely brilliant. Honestly. Rent the movie, watch the first eight minutes, and then just skip the rest.) He begins the movie with the following: "What if I told you that even the worst neighborhood in America could be made completely safe. And what if I told you that this could be accomplished without risking the life of one single law enforcement officer. How do I know this? Because it's happening right now in every country in the world but this one." And then we're taken to the streets of Iran, where fully autonomous robots patrol the streets. Honestly, it's absolutely brilliant.

Comment: And you think that's credible? (Score 0) 252

by Pollux (#49098699) Attached to: No Tech Bubble Here, Says CNN: "This Time It's Different."

Having CNN say there's no tech bubble is as credible as Fox News calling themselves "fair and balanced". CNN is owned by Turner Broadcasting, a division of Time Warner. Is having their front-line "news" network run a headline of "Tech Bubble - Another Crash Coming Soon?" in the best interest of the corporation? Especially when they're on the verge of one of the largest telecommunication mergers in the history of our nation? They need to instill -confidence- in the market for their deal to go through. What better way to accomplish that then with their "news" network?

But of course there's another bubble. Except, this time, it's not only in technology. That may be the one we best recognize, but there's also the student loan bubble, the health care industry bubble, and a second real estate bubble is already in the works. The 2008 recession didn't wipe out wealth, nor the heavy concentration of it in the hands of a small group of people; it only slowed the flow of it through main street. Now the economic metrics (unemployment rate, GDP, job creation numbers, fed interest rate, etc.) are looking good for investments to be made again. Now that Wall Street is ready to open up the floodgates, don't be surprised to see how much money flows.

And yes, I'm expecting that the next bubble burst to be the worst of the three, the first being the dot com bust, and the second being the "great recession". Because when we had our first two bubbles pop, nothing was really done to keep those responsible for causing it from doing the same thing all over again.

Comment: Better battery life, assuming... (Score 1) 78

by Pollux (#48779305) Attached to: Intel Unveils 5th Gen Core Series Broadwell-U CPUs and Cherry Trail Atom

Similarly, the company is arguing that it can boost battery life by 1.5 hours.

Assuming you are using the same battery.

I bought a lot of 30 laptops for my school w/ 3rd gen Core i3's. Laptops contained a 56Wh battery. Following year, I bought another lot of 30 hours with 4th gen Core i3's. Laptops contained a 47Wh battery. Give the Big 3 a CPU that extends battery life, they package it with a shorter-life battery and pocket the savings.

Comment: I agree with you completely, but... (Score 1) 169

by Pollux (#48742753) Attached to: Better Learning Through Expensive Software? One Principal Thinks Not

If every parent was as responsible as you are at teaching kids how to love learning, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Speaking parent-to-parent, yes, we parents need to give our kids the best. But speaking as a teacher and a tech director for a public school, parents are not giving kids their best. That's the problem.

In one classroom you can every range of student imaginable, from the one that built their own Siemens S7 PLC lab project to the one who slept in a car in freezing temperatures the night before to avoid dad's alcoholic abuse. And you cannot expect even high quality veteran teachers to know how to successfully instruct both, let alone when they're in the same classroom together.

The two most beautiful words in the English language are "Cheque Enclosed." -- Dorothy Parker