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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 Wired.com 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.

Comment: All doublespeak (Score 5, Insightful) 223

by Pollux (#47886115) Attached to: U.S. Threatened Massive Fine To Force Yahoo To Release Data

Terrorists did not take away our freedoms. They were only successful in killing 2,996 people and causing about $19 billion in property damage. We gave our own freedoms away.

And in more doublespeak, Obama shared this with us today:

“We carry on because as Americans we do not give in to fear. Ever."

Nope. Americans never give into fear. We also don't allow virtual strip searches at airports, we don't allow the federal government to spy on our private cellular communications, and we guarantee all political whistle-blowers immunity from criminal charges.

Comment: A lesson in warrants and probable cause (Score 2) 790

I understand your concern about corporations breaching your 4th amendment rights, but your reasoning is misplaced. In fact, this case is a great example of the 4th amendment being followed, not circumvented.

The 4th amendment does not guarantee protection against search and seizure; it limits when and how searches and seizures can be exercised. Here's a portion of the 4th amendment for you: "...no Warrants shall [be] issue[d], but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In this case, Google's tip was not used as evidence to convict this man of a crime. Google's tip was used by police to justify probable cause that a crime had been committed. (This does not mean he's guilty of the crime, only that there's a greater likelihood that he committed it than he didn't.) The police used this information to obtain a search warrant. I'm sure that the evidence they used to convict him was gathered through the exercise of that warrant.

Google's tip is no different than a tip coming from any other source. Say a bank teller (for association's sake, let's say the bank was incorporated) was just depositing some money for a customer who drove up to her window, and she saw in her security camera what she believed to be a missing child. She calls police and reports what she saw. The police go to the bank and look at the recorded camera footage and agree that the image captured does resemble a missing child. They grab the license plate number from the footage, trace the registration to its owner, obtain a search warrant, go to the owner's residence, search the premise, find the child, confirm it's the missing child, and convict the individual of kidnapping (and probably a host of other charges to boot). In this circumstance, private information (whether an e-mail sitting on Google-owned servers or a bank's CCTV DVR) shared with police is used to meet probable cause and obtain a warrant. And in both circumstances, a search and seizure is warranted.

If you want to minimize your risk of a warrant being issued against you, don't display evidence of a crime outside of your own home. (And when the police come knocking on your door and politely ask you, "May we come in?", unless they flash a warrant in your face, don't be polite back.) And while IANAL, for more information about the 4th amendment and warrants as written by one, I strongly recommend you read The Illustrated Guide to Law. Very, very informative.

Comment: Wrong conclusion... (Score 1) 230

by Pollux (#47442885) Attached to: Geographic Segregation By Education

The research shows a clear trend of the desirable cities becoming even more desirable, to the point where it's almost a necessity for city planners to lure college graduates or face decline.

I drew a different conclusion from this article. I know the article's focus was on attracting college graduates so that the city can prosper, but I instead considered the contrapositive: If a city is not prospering, then it has a lower-than-average percentage of college graduates. I see it as another confirmation of residential segregation.

More and more, there is becoming a "separate and not equal" divide in communities based on their socioeconomic status. As a teacher, I see it all the time in schools: there are some schools that leverage the taxpayer for new buildings, new technology, higher salaries, and less stressful work environments, while many others struggle due to an inability to levy. Instead of governments focusing on what to do about producing and/or attracting college graduates, perhaps it should instead consider what to do about the absence of them in their community.

Comment: But now... (Score 4, Insightful) 1330

by Pollux (#47355713) Attached to: U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Religious Objections To Contraception

Corporations are people too.

As in the Citizen's United case, this ruling is a complete perversion of constitutional rights on the American Public, and both as abominable as Plessy v. Ferguson. Here's the train of logic that the majority took:

1) Take a piece of legislation originally designed to protect sacred American Indian worship sites, though more broadly individual religious freedoms,
2) And extend those freedoms to corporations with this hocus-pocus incantation: "The purpose of extending rights to corporations is to protect the rights of people associated with the corporation, including shareholders, officers, and employees." (573 U.S. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Syllabus, pg. 3)

And while I was never a fan of Ginsburg in my younger years, given the recent evolution of the SCotUS, that opinion is rapidly changing, especially when she has this to say on the matter (573 U.S. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Ginsburg dissent, pg. 14):

Until this (Citizens United) litigation, no decision of this Court recognized a for-profit corporation’s qualification for a religious exemption from a generally applicable law...the exercise of religion is characteristic of natural persons, not artificial legal entities. As Chief Justice Marshall observed nearly two centuries ago, a corporation is “an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” (Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 4 Wheat. 518, 636 [1819]).

Should just rewrite the Preamble of the Constitution now to read, "We the Corporations of the United States..."

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein

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