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Comment: Google Docs for Homework (Score 1) 168

by csrster (#44152631) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Explaining Cloud Privacy Risks To K-12 Teachers?
Interesting discussion going on underneath the noise here ... We've actually encouraged our kids to use Google Docs exclusively for homework assignments because
  1. we don't want them thinking that Microsoft Word is the only way to create a document
  2. trying to teach good save & backup habits to small kids gets in the way of what they're supposed to be learning
  3. with Google Docs their work is always there where they are, as long as they have access to a web-browser
  4. Google Docs has a much simpler interface than Word or Libreoffice
  5. Google Docs has good interoperability e.g. export to pdf, .doc etc

The privacy issue isn't one we've given huge amounts of thought to, partly because I doubt even the NAS cares much about a story about a hungry rabbit written by a ten-year-old, but mainly because the issues with their use of mobiles, social media, gaming etc. strike us as much more serious, at least at their current age.

Comment: Re:not to sound picky (Score 1) 96

by csrster (#44068489) Attached to: A Look At Quantum Computer Manufacturer D-Wave and Its Founder
I like Scott Aaronson's response to this point:

My reaction, I confess, is simple. I don’t care—I actually told them this—if the former Pope Benedict has ended his retirement to become D-Wave’s new marketing director. I don’t care if the Messiah has come to Earth on a flaming chariot, not to usher in an age of peace but simply to spend $10 million on D-Wave’s new Vesuvius chip. And if you imagine that I’ll ever care about such things, then you obviously don’t know much about me. I’ll tell you what: if peer pressure is where it’s at, then come to me with the news that Umesh Vazirani, or Greg Kuperberg, or Matthias Troyer is now convinced, based on the latest evidence, that D-Wave’s chip asymptotically outperforms simulated annealing in a fair comparison, and does so because of quantum effects. Any one such scientist’s considered opinion would mean more to me than 500,000 business deals.

(from http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=1400 )

Comment: A couple of points (Score 1) 358

by csrster (#37239032) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Math Curriculum To Understand General Relativity?
  • i) Books are all very well, but in this day and age aren't there other web-based resources that might be a good supplement? Does any know of any universities making material at this level available online for free?
  • ii) On the "learning the maths" vs. "getting an intuitive understanding of the geometry" argument, I think some people are putting the cart before the horse. Doing the mathematical donkey work comes first. The intuitive understanding only comes after a long period of sweating over the formalism.

Comment: Re:Useless information (Score 1) 60

by csrster (#36820936) Attached to: Computer Science Tools Flood Astronomers With Data
This is a really poor argument for several reasons:
  • i) telescope time is a scarce resource. If I need an image of a galaxy X I might have to wait years to get telescope time for it. If galaxy X has already been observed once and the data stored then I can do my new research (e.g. datamining) on the existing data. Nobody knows in advance which data is going to be interesting to future researchers so triage is almost impossible.
  • ii) telescopes have finite lifetimes. Once the telescope/instrument ceases to exist the data cannot be reproduced.
  • iii) Most of the interesting things in the universe are dynamic. You need to be able to compare observations of stuff over time.

Many people are unenthusiastic about their work.

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