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Comment: Re:Fail-safe (Score 1) 305

by dwhitaker (#45116157) Attached to: Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Food Stamps
Thank you for bringing numbers into this. My $50 number is from one of several articles like this: Source.

My thought was that allowing up to $50 is certainly not enough for a typically grocery trip, but that if the outage was of a short duration (measured in hours rather than days), that it might be sufficient. It's at least a system in place today rather than one that would ostensibly need to clear numerous political hurdles.

I think some of the other threads have covered that EBT is run more like debit than credit, so that the fundamentals of the system are different. Furthermore, if it were set up to behave more like credit cards with automatically approving purchases in the event of an outage, someone will be liable for the difference (the retailers? the states?), and each has large negatives associated with it.

EBT is also a political lightning rod, so any changes that may improve the system from one perspective may be viewed as unconscionable from another. However the numbers shake out, a vulnerable population was hurt, but preventing it again in the future may not be as simple as one would hope.

Comment: Re:This is exactly why testing backups is necessar (Score 2) 305

by dwhitaker (#45115877) Attached to: Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Food Stamps
Risk exists, and appropriate management of it is how the world moves forward. I'm not privy to the inner-workings of Xerox, and it is entirely possible that they were not following best practices and that a substantial portion of this is due to operator error. However, even routine tests have risk associated with them. My point is that immediately blaming Xerox is not a good reaction: making and testing backups is an effort to mitigate risks (with much worse outcomes). If minor problems arise from time to time in the course of protecting against a larger future risk, that should be accepted. How the short-term and long-term risks offset each other is a discussion for the 17 states, the USDA, and Xerox.

Comment: Re:Fail-safe (Score 3, Informative) 305

by dwhitaker (#45115681) Attached to: Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Food Stamps
One of the news articles mentioned that merchants were supposed to record transactions manually and allow purchases up to $50. Not ideal, and not the same as allowing all purchases, but it is a provision of the system that is supposed to ensure people aren't deprived food and necessities during a short outage. Now, whether retailers actually followed protocol is an entirely different matter (and one that does have implications for the way the system is run).

Comment: This is exactly why testing backups is necessary (Score 4, Insightful) 305

by dwhitaker (#45115637) Attached to: Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Food Stamps
Backups don't always work - that's why you test them. This time they did not work - much better that you experience problems when you anticipate them than when everything else is going wrong, too. It's unfortunate that the system was down, but it seems they got it back up in a reasonably quick time frame. Moreover, merchants are supposed to have manual means of recording EBT payments for just such a scenario.

Comment: Re:Totally arbitrary anyway (Score 1) 215

In an ideal world it would be an "all of the above" situation with getting kids help. Is your child struggling? Here's more, personal help. Is your child excelling? Here's some resources to help them achieve more. Is your child neither struggling nor excelling? Here's more help so that they don't struggle and can possibly excel.

There will always be inequality in education, and there will always be finite resources that need allocation. As a society, we seem to have decided that we need amazing talented people that receive more attention even when they are doing well. We've also decided that struggling students should get extra help. Unfortunately, there are often many other issues related with struggling students, and their lack of performance in the classroom is indicative/symptomatic of other issues. It is hard to quantify gains due to interventions (which cost money) for this group. (I also think it would be hard to quantify some gains in the 'gifted' group, but people like high test scores, and they may not need further justification.)

We can neither have a 'Harrison Bergeron'-type society, nor can we have a society that devotes all of its resources to the gifted/wealthy/etc. We need a balance, but this balance is both hard to attain and maintain.

Comment: Standardized Assessments (Score 2) 215

I'm sure that a debate will emerge in the ensuing contents about the pros and cons of relying on standardized assessments as heavily as we do. From the summary, though, it seems as if the problem was not with the assessment, but rather the ancillary aspects of assessing. This doesn't excuse the mistakes, but it also isn't a compelling argument for abolishing standardized tests.

For what it's worth, Pearson is a for-profit educational publisher and assessment creator, but there are other assessment creators out there that are non-profit (e.g. ETS, the makers of the GRE). The entire assessment process is hard, and maintaining high-quality throughout is even harder.

Comment: Re:Seems very reasonable (Score 1) 53

by dwhitaker (#43424415) Attached to: Gambling-Focused Internet Cafes Now Illegal In Florida
I don't have the knowledge to be able to address each of your points (in the affirmative or negative), but Native American Reservations have sovereignty in their own right, and, along with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, that pretty much makes Native American Gaming something that the state has - at best - limited say in. Check out the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_gaming

Comment: Actual Bill Text (Score 4, Informative) 53

by dwhitaker (#43421987) Attached to: Gambling-Focused Internet Cafes Now Illegal In Florida
Here is the actual bill as signed as a PDF: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2013/0155/BillText/er/PDF Florida (and governing bodies in general) can easily pass bills with unintended consequences as pointed about by others' comments, so read the bill yourself to see what actually took place. The actual bill is called "CS/HB 155: Prohibition of Electronic Gambling Devices".

Comment: Seems very reasonable (Score 5, Interesting) 53

by dwhitaker (#43421697) Attached to: Gambling-Focused Internet Cafes Now Illegal In Florida
These are NOT internet cafes - they masquerade as such, but are really mini casinos. They are popularly known as "sweepstakes cafes" and often provide free food and drinks to encourage people to stay and gamble. This article (http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20120512/ARTICLE/120519835) does a pretty good job describing some of their features (e.g. one in Sarasota, FL gives out 50 kegs of free beer each month and offers $20,000 jackpots). You can think what you will about whether online (or offline) gambling is a good or bad thing, but this seems well within the purview of a state government to regulate or shut down, and they seem to have acted reasonably.

Comment: Re:Grades grammar not content. A.I. not ready yet. (Score 1) 253

by dwhitaker (#43364655) Attached to: Automated System Developed To Grade Student Essays
But this is precisely why it makes this system useful AND should please teachers. If the system works well for grammar and ( hopefully programmable) essay structure, then the teachers can focus on the content, style, and finer points of writing. A computer can correct to/too/two, and if it frees up more time for the expert that is being paid to grade in depth, this is a good thing.

Comment: Could happen by chance (Score 5, Informative) 203

by dwhitaker (#39234125) Attached to: Chrome Users Are Best With Numbers, IE Users Worst
Statistical significance just means something is unlikely to occur by random chance. Said another way, it means there is evidence that it didn't happen by random chance, but not definitive proof. (This couching of conclusions is a mainstay of statistics.) Moreover, statistical significance doesn't necessarily translate to practical significance, but I didn't RTFA to find out if that was being claimed.

Comment: Re:Go with 'The Cloud' (Score 2) 116

by dwhitaker (#35901344) Attached to: Games: Sony Confirms PSPGo Gone; New Consoles Expected 2014

100% uptime

I hope that was a sarcastic comment. Even as I type the PSN (Playstation Network) is down for an unspecified reason, and they think it will be down for a few days at least. 'The Cloud' is not *the* answer - it is *an* answer which should be implemented in conjunction with physical media, large hard drives, and other technology.

For large values of one, one equals two, for small values of two.

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