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Comment: deja vue? (Score 1) 745

by e**(i pi)-1 (#46261841) Attached to: Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?
Hmm. A Deja vue. A glitch in the matrix? Seriously,such ideas are already a cliche. It had already been subject to fascinating contemplations in Hofstadters book of 1981. And progress in virtual reality and computer games since then have only amplified that the idea of a simulation would be hard to detect.

Comment: reason why calculators still exist (Score 1) 340

by e**(i pi)-1 (#44727957) Attached to: For Education, Why TI-83 > iPad
Of course, calculators are technically long obsolete. It is exactly their limitations is the reason why they are still around because they produce controlled limits on what the device could do, for example not access the web. With smartphone or tablet already, there is less control for the teacher. There are now apps like "myscript calculator" where one can handwrite formulas onto the screen and it evaluates it. The article still has a point. With calculators, one could still experiment. I had hacked my TI 59 so that it featured a joy stick and use it to control the lights of my room. Also not well known was that it was possible to reprogram the basic functions on the calculator like allocate the sin button to something else. Presumabely this made it cheaper for TI to sell specialized versions of their calculators but the backdoor key combination to allow such mods had not been documented anywhere. (here are pictures of my highschool machine: http://www.math.harvard.edu/~knill/various/ti59/index.html)

Comment: BYOD is doomed for tests (Score 1) 55

by e**(i pi)-1 (#44529857) Attached to: Finland's Upper Secondary School Exams Going All-Linux
I believe, BYOD is doomed from the beginning, thats why graphing calculators (dinosaurs in comparison with modern smart phones) are still around: because of their limitations they can still be used for tests. Many questions for systems running on students hardware? How is the live system booted: DVD, memorystick? How does that work on a tablet? The biggest weakness is that the system is booted in a subsystem of an other OS. If the system interacts with a server, how do you prevent other internet access? How do you prevent other programs to be run? One major weakness for math testing systems accessed from a browser is that students can "google" or "alpha" the answer. Many system run the clock on the students system so that if the student runs a virtual machine and stops it, the clock stops. For testing systems with BYOD, there is always also the danger that the test leaks. Even with a completely locked down system, it is difficult to prevent that a student boots the OS in a virtual machine and have free range and post the test on the web. It needs only one student to do so. A test examinator can not see the difference (without considerable effort) whether the machine has booted up in a virtual machine or not. Ie only safe way to make a safe and accountable testing system is to make it on paper.

Comment: relative (Score 0) 250

by e**(i pi)-1 (#43021103) Attached to: Cryptography 'Becoming Less Important,' Adi Shamir Says
The quote was clearly understood "relative to other measures". Besides that one has to keep in mind that the top experts are often wrong. Look at some quotes:
  • Everything that can be invented has been invented
  • Who wants to hear actors talk?
  • There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
  • The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.

Comment: we need a tablet emulator (Score 1) 179

by e**(i pi)-1 (#42954835) Attached to: Ubuntu Tablets: Less Jarring Than Windows 8?
Certainly good to add more variety. For me a tablet is like a monitor. It just has to work and not do more what it is asked for, like user tracking or information collecting or content change or adaptation. What would be nice is to have an emulator application on a desktop which looks and behaves from the outside like a tablet. In a time, when news outlets or search engines more and more also adapt their pages to the medium (never mind the look and feel, the disturbing part is also change of content), it would be good to have a tool, which allows to catch possible leaks and see what is done when a "tablet" is recognized. Changing the user agent in the browser can not do that yet.

Comment: use (Score 4, Interesting) 274

by e**(i pi)-1 (#42850267) Attached to: GNU Hurd To Develop SATA, USB, Audio Support
Why does anything always have to do with practicality or use. Tinkering with new or old operating systems can be compared with learning and messing with new or old math or physics. I guess that when developing some USB drivers for hurd, you learn more than improving a given drivers for linux. The later is like reading and understanding and improving on a paper which is "well known", the former like breaking new grounds.

Comment: Re:Wait, what? (Score 2) 379

by e**(i pi)-1 (#42724053) Attached to: Perl's Glory Days Are Behind It, But It Isn't Going Anywhere
Second that. Perl is great exactly because it is stable, reliable and because of the prospect that it will remain so. Like the Unix shell, Latex or plain old C. Its maybe as close as one can get to mathematical tools, which by default never change. A language has to earn the status of being archane. Thats when it can be used also within larger projects without worry that basic functionality is depreciated. Its not an exclusive or. The world needs both, new languages which are exciting but change often and old languages which have a track record of being robust.

Comment: Re:There people are really, really stupid (Score 1) 309

by e**(i pi)-1 (#41616659) Attached to: US Looks For Input On "The Next Big Things"
But any attempt to plan and direct breakthroughs will only serve to prevent them.
What about nuclear energy or getting to the moon? These were planned and heavily directed breakthroughs.
Breakthroughs cannot be planned
Is this really true? Modern industry is full of examples where breakthroughs have been planned.
You can put a whole lot of smart people to work, give them everything they want, and maybe you will get lucky.
Isn't this also a form of planning? Maybe we should say that breakthroughs can not be micromanaged.

Comment: flexibility (Score 1) 1154

by e**(i pi)-1 (#41264073) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Would You Fix the Linux Desktop?
First of all, for myself there is no linux desktop problem. I always have used a lightwight desktop manager (blackbox) which has everything I even need. What would be nice for the general public is a desktop manager which is flexible enough so that it can be tuned so that it behaves exactly like OSX or be tune so that it emulates exactly windows. Such a desktop might also not be vulnerable to patent claims because it is essentially the user who tunes the parameters. There just happen to be parameter files around which make the desktop look and feel like other operating systems. Somebody might even build a parameter set so that it looks like unity.

Comment: example from an MIT course (Score 1) 168

Anant Agarwal recently reported that at the course MIT 6.002 where textbooks are freely available for students, the textbook sales have gone through the roof. Publishers currently learn from such cases. This patent is complete nonsense. No teacher would make financial payments linked to grades.

Little known fact about Middle Earth: The Hobbits had a very sophisticated computer network! It was a Tolkien Ring...

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