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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.

Comment: Tickets the cost of a loaf of bread (Score 3, Interesting) 400

by Pollux (#48718237) Attached to: Box Office 2014: Moviegoing Hits Two-Decade Low

I loved going to theaters back when tickets were the cost of a loaf of bread. I had one growing up.

Back in Fargo, ND in the mid-to-late 1990's, there was a business owner who built the Fargo Cinema Grill. Tickets were $1.50. You went in, sat down, ordered food before movie started (or after if you arrived late), got it about 15-30 minutes into the show, and enjoyed a great meal with your movie. They served all your standard bar & grill, burgers, fries, wings, tall sodas and beer. There was plenty of space to eat, sit and relax. The community loved it, and, for a while, it was a viable business. Unfortunately, the local commercial theaters in town that were owned by CEC Theaters had some kind of monopoly rights on movie showings with the big studios and wouldn't let the CG show a film until after CEC dropped it in their theaters. CG couldn't get enough customers to watch movies in their theater when the movies were already out on DVD. They closed up shop in '99.

While they were open, we always had a reason to want to go to the theater. It was a restaurant and theater in one. In fact, when you think of it as a restaurant instead of a theater, people go out to eat all the time, so why not enjoy a movie while you eat? I wish the idea caught would have caught on with CEC, but they said once in a newspaper article, "That's just not our business model."

Comment: Which begs the question... (Score 2) 1051

by Pollux (#48584891) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

Your right to refuse a vaccine does not give you the right to harm others.

So when two fundamental rights are at play, which one triumphs?

Let's take your argument to the next extreme possibility. Let's say that science one day invents a chip that, when implanted into the brain, suppresses violent aggression in humans. Implanting it into every human would end murder and war, saving millions of lives every year. Would we as a society require everyone to accept the implant, then subsequently ban from our nations those who refuse it? Would you personally accept such an implant?

Comment: No (Score 2, Insightful) 1051

by Pollux (#48582389) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

I recognize that vaccinations save tens of thousands of lives every year: 100 deaths prevented from chicken pox; 400-500 deaths from measles; 1,000 from polio; over 15,000 from diphtheria. And let's not forget the millions of others who suffered from these diseases without dying. Without a doubt, vaccines have been one of the most brilliant inventions that have made an incredible positive improvement to the quality of life in our society.

But our body is our own. Period. We cannot cross this line. If someone conscientiously objects to a treatment, it is their natural right to decline it.

And if we violate this tenant even in the name of vaccinations, it can be violated any other way "for the greater good." And that's a very, very dangerous precedent to make.

Comment: Disappointing article (Score 4, Interesting) 66

by Pollux (#48414105) Attached to: NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren

It's quite shallow. Another app harvesting data from schoolkids. Privacy policy is vague. Teachers don't care because it's useful. Parents try to care but don't really. There's really nothing new here that deepens the discussion about the continuing erosion of student privacy.

Anyone really looking for a good read on that subject should turn back to the May Politico article highlighted earlier on Slashdot. Also interesting to note is how some companies are pledging to no longer mine student data, as well as companies that were notably absent from signing that pledge, including the one that promised to stop collecting student data last April.

Comment: Anecdote on Apple Configurator (Score 1) 219

by Pollux (#48379039) Attached to: Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

We have about 50 iPads in our building for now. Last year, I was busy loading apps on a few in Apple Configurator when it glitched on me. Said I had -1 apps when the detailed redemption code list showed that there were still two to spare.

Called and complained to Apple. They took a copy of my AC database and analyzed it. Told me it was corrupt. Refunded me 1 1/2 years of app purchases, told me to get another Mac computer, unsupervised all the iPads on the old config station, re-supervise them on the new, buy all new apps, and load them all again onto the iPads. I told them that this process would take about 20 hours to accomplish and told them that they'd likely lose future business if there was nothing they could do further for an unhappy customer. They politely said "nope."

And that's why Google's winning.

Comment: As a technology director for a K-12 district (Score 4, Insightful) 219

by Pollux (#48375637) Attached to: Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks

I'll weigh in on two different thoughts.

First thought: iPads vs. Chromebooks vs. Microsoft. At a recent technology director's conference, there's nothing but moaning & groaning about managing iPads. It's four year's running now, and Apple just does not get Enterprise management. No central management of Apple IDs, App management is terrible (Apple Configurator is lousy, buggy, and doesn't push apps, and 3rd party management tools keep breaking w/ every new version of iOS), the list keeps going on. And there's nothing but good things being said about Chromebooks. Affordable, simple, easy enterprise management, no more need for file servers...the only criticism is that they eat bandwidth. And Microsoft? Yesterday's news.

Second thought: regarding the criticisms about 1-1 and flooding schools with digital devices. I in much part agree that there's not a direct -need- for student digital devices. But digital devices do enhance learning by providing greater opportunities to communicate, manage classroom content digitally and make it accessible outside school, create video lessons and "flip" the classroom, and provide formative assessments (i.e. frequent quizzing that is used to guide instruction & provide mnemonic enhancement) that have been proven to be a very effective learning tool. But these are all -instructional- changes that need to start and continue with the teacher. It's foolish for a district to follow a blind "build-it-and-they-will-come" strategy of flooding a school with digital devices and utterly failing at supporting instructional changes. If districts aren't willing to provide both continual funding for a 1-1 program as well as instructional support to teachers, then they're wasting their money. But we all need to recognize that schools are responsible for teaching students how to effectively use the internet in the pursuit of knowledge. The internet is the new information paradigm of our society, making it a necessary part of the curriculum.

Comment: Cracked up when I saw this photo (Score 5, Funny) 275

by Pollux (#48186173) Attached to: The Largest Ship In the World Is Being Built In Korea

Did anyone else think that, when they saw the second photo on the article that some awkward conversation took place prior to the photo that went something like this:

Photographer: "Tell your worker there to look busy. I need photos for the article."
Manager: "What do you want him to do?"
Photographer: "I don't know! What does that machine do over there?"
Manager: "That's our automated steel blaster."
Photographer: "That sounds important. Have your guy go over there and operate it."
Manager: "But it's fully automated. Everything's set the way it needs to be."
Photographer: "But I need -something-! Just have him stand next to it and look like he's reconfiguring it."
          Manager to Technician: "Technician, go over to the panel and look busy."
          Technician: "Sir, I don't work on this machine. And there are signs all over it saying 'Do Not Touch!'"
          Manager: "I don't care! This American fool needs a photo!"
          Technician: "How foolish! The entire system is automated! Did you tell him this?"
          Manager: "Of course I did! He didn't listen."
          Technician: "What am I supposed to do then?"
          Manager: "I don't know! Just go over there and look like you're pushing a button."
          Technician: "But I don't want to break the machine! It is a masterpiece!"
          Manager: "Fine, fine, just, um, just point at the button with your finger. And touch the button. Yes, yes, that looks convincing."
          Technician: "Does it really look like I'm pressing it?"
          Manager: "No, you look stupid. But just stay there, like that, alright?"
          Technician: "Stupid Americans. No wonder their economy sucks."

Comment: LFTR (Score 4, Interesting) 218

by Pollux (#48171655) Attached to: Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

I love the idea of LFTR. Honestly. A thousand years of cheap and plentiful fuel, simplified nuclear design, smaller physical footprint, lower risk of cataclysmic meltdown & resulting fallout, waste having a much lower half-life, no CO2 emissions...

But it's still an idea. After Oak Ridge, there's been no government-led development of LFTR reactors in the states. Our only hopes at present are either with the Chinese or a private company called Flibe Energy that's trying to gather investment funds to build LFTE reactors for army bases.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle