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Comment: Remember television classrooms (Score 2) 352

by jhecht (#49557041) Attached to: The Future Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher
Somebody thought of something very similar back in the early 1960s. Put the best lecturer in the school system in front of the television and sit the kids in the auditorium so they can watch and listen. The Miami-Dade County schools tested it for junior high school, using it for civics class in 9th grade and I forget what in the 7th and 8th. About two-thirds of the kids had the television course, and the rest of us had standard instruction. It was a complete disaster. The kids were wild at the best of times, and they took the television course as an invitation for mischief and worse. After all these years I can't remember the gory details, but it sank without trace. Behavior management was the immediate issue, but kids also need teacher interaction to learn. Conventional schooling has plenty of problems, but the television classroom showed how much worse it could be.

Comment: Re:Ergo! (Score 1) 452

by jhecht (#49274515) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard?
The MS Natural 4000 sounds great - but do the letters wear off the keys, as they do on the Microsoft comfort curve 2000? The letters appear to be little decals, which don't hold up on the heaviest-used keys. The F, D, C, V, and L decals are completely gone on my Comfort Curve 2000, along with most of E, M, and A.

Comment: Re:Who or what is Gigaom? (Score 3, Informative) 101

by jhecht (#49224997) Attached to: Gigaom Closes Shop
Gigaom was a good site for tracking telecommunications news for several years, founded by Om Malik, who wrote a very good book on the 2000 Bubble called Broadbandits, which focused on telecomm giants -- including giant scams like MCI. Malik was a perceptive analyst and writer, and I read it frequently in the 2000s. Its demise reminds me that I hadn't visited it of late. It also reminds me there are a lot of tech websites out there, and a new wave of companies turning out what apparently are tech news apps specifically for mobile apps. As the Inc. article says, "Once again there's a bit of that old aroma of burning money in the air."

Comment: Re:Hard to say (Score 1) 346

Does anybody know what "digital media company" really means? The new management and many of the established employees have gotten to know each other, and decided to part ways because they weren't going in the same direction. It happens all the time in the magazine business. The new owner wanted something new (even if he didn't know what it should be); the established employees thought they had something worth preserving (even if it wasn't making enough money to survive). This one's getting noticed because it's a well-known name.

Comment: Re:UPS (Score 1) 236

by jhecht (#48434507) Attached to: What is your computer most often plugged into?
With NoStar Electric, where I used to have a power failure every couple of months, it's insurance against losing hours of work rather than electronics. Fortunately things are a lot better now (if we can keep the drunks and texting drivers from busting another utility pole) - but if power failures are frequent, you need one.

Comment: Re:Lasers and deformable mirrors arnt expensive (Score 1) 150

It's a solution searching for a problem. The military has been looking at laser links through the air, but those are for non-stationary applications, such as between ships and marine forces on land. The OA talks about civilian uses on land. Claims that outages would be less than five minutes per year are highly weather dependent -- a lot easier to achieve in the Sonora desert than in a rainforest. Construction costs are big issues in urban areas, which is one environment they suggest. Developing countries are another. It's unclear what millimeter band they are using; some would require licensing, at least in the US, which was the rationale for the previous generation of all-optical through the air systems. But that generation has largely vanished.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 1) 265

by jhecht (#48133659) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Can't Google Block Spam In Gmail?
Almost all the mails I find in Google's spam filters are false positives, including Fidelity mailings and many legitimate mailings such as e-newsletters. My gmail accounts get virtually no "real" spam, but Google seems to program its filters to catch something. Mostly it's press releases, some of which do look spammy, but as a journalist I need to receive some of them. But it could be any mailing that meets Google's spam criteria, including a series of rapid-fire emails back and forth or routine administrivia like dental appointment reminders. (Interestingly, it has never flagged LinkedIn notices as spam.) If you're missing something important, check your Gmail spam folder. You may be surprised.

Comment: Re:avoiding doing a postdoc isn't possible (Score 1) 283

by jhecht (#48091555) Attached to: Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science
Physics had a similar problem in the 1960s. The Department of Defense pumped a lot of money into universities to train more PhDs, starting after World War II and continuing, with a few interruptions, until the mid-60s. The number of physics PhDs soared from around 100 in 1946 to over 1600 in 1970. By then all the jobs were filled, the space race was starting to wind down, and 1010 job-hunters chased 63 jobs offered at the American Physical Society's big meeting. It was brutal.

Comment: Re:A basic land line (Score 1) 635

by jhecht (#47790715) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?
The best feature of a landline is being able to understand the people you're speaking to. At least here in the US, mobile voice quality tends to be poor, thanks largely to speech compression, background noise, and the lousy acoustics of many models (smartphones have to do a lot of processing to make up for their tiny mikes and speakers). In the US, the basic landline rate usually covers unlimited calls within the US may be lower than the basic individual mobile rate (without a maximum number of minutes a month). If you talk a lot, landline to landline calls are a clear win in both call quality and price.

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