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Comment: Comment Subject: (Score 1) 528

by mctk (#36054632) Attached to: When it comes to jury service, I ...

I would be proud to do jury duty, but I have IBS and I'm pretty sure that this might disqualify me (were I ever contacted). When might I be asked about this type of information? How long are juries in the seats between breaks? What is the system for taking breaks? Is it at the whim of the judge? Do jurors have to request them? Before a trial starts, are you given information about how long it might last?

Comment: Re:Brilliant (Score 1) 62

by mctk (#36037150) Attached to: <em>Magicka</em> Sequel Planned, Console Version a Possibility

I have to admit that the negativity in the comments is surprising to me. I totally agree, the spell binding was genius. When I started playing, I was surprised at the lack of Mana meter. "What? So I can just keep casting spells over and over? This is going to be stupid easy." Not so! The spell-casting limitation was shifted from some arbitrary in-game number to the skill of the person actually playing. Casting spells finally feels like you're doing something. I hope more games pick up on this idea.

Also, I played it through with my friend without issue and had an awesome time. Well worth the price of a Guinness.

Comment: Re:not quite 2/3 (Score 1) 449

by mctk (#31948618) Attached to: At Issue In a Massachusetts Town, the Value of Two-Thirds

can't these people do simple math? ... 106 / 236 = 0.660194175

hehehe. I guess we'll have to call that one a typo, eh? ;)

But, even if you meant 136/206 = 0.66019475, you've still fallen into the same trap as they did: you've rounded. You're abusing the equal sign. To be exact, we should say:

136/206 = 0.6601941747572815533980582524271844 (repeating) [pedantic or on-topic? I can't tell...]

And although we might call it "simple mathematics" that 1/3 = 0.3333... this leads to the true, but perhaps counter-intuitive result that 1=0.9999....

The average person will say that the first result is "truly equal" while the second result is "about equal". When pressed, they will backpedal and say that I guess 1/3 is "about equal" to 0.3333.... [ yes, I often bring this up in bars to hear friends' thoughts]. I guess, I'd have to put this out there to you all. How do we prove that 1/3=0.333...? We can show that the series 3/10 + 3/100 + 3/1000 + .... converges to 1/3, but I'd no longer call that "simple" [i.e. must define "limit", prove convergence, etc.]. Any thoughts on a better way to convince friends of the "exactness" of this equality?

Comment: Re:Good Teachers (Score 4, Insightful) 446

by mctk (#31382842) Attached to: Improving Education Through Better Teachers

And they won't need higher salaries - just a nice bureaucracy and politics-free workplace.

Personally, I've never understood the resistance to paying teachers more. Our entire push in the last decade has to make schools more business-like. Normally, the measure of a good business is whether it stays in business. With schools, however, that metric doesn't work. No Child Left Untested is an attempt to fix this. If we have a metric for schools, then we can "bankrupt" those that aren't performing. We are trying to fit our schools into our free-market philosophy. However, for some reason, we ignore an elementary free-market observation; if you don't have enough qualified candidates for positions, then you need to improve working conditions and/or offer more money. Simple, and yet rather than recognize this, people complain about "administration" and call teachers whiners.

Since we can't outsource education, we've decided to put the squeeze on artificially. Give schools less money, while at the same time, expect more. The schools I worked at could use *more* "administration". Our principal was overworked. Our secretary was deciding which classes students should be placed in, because our *part-time* counselor was only on campus half the day. Rooms only got cleaned every third day. Roofs leaked. Heating failed. Our school had no librarian. There was no music program. There was no dance program. There was one visual arts teacher. After-school programs died as their funding was cut. What an inspiring place for a student to be. Really expresses the concern society has for their education.

And you've got curriculums that are created are created by textbook makers and suits far removed from the realities of students. You can't teach something to someone who doesn't care. But "inspiration" is secondary. Spend a week studying imaginary numbers that culminates in students who actually understand what they're looking at when they see the Mandelbrot Set, and, officially, you've wasted a week, cause that isn't on the tests. Spend a week working through some of the details and mathematics of how, exactly, your voice is transmitted from your cell phone to mine (something students are always *very* interested in), and, officially, you've now wasted two weeks. And the tests will show that you're behind. You must be a bad teacher.

I often think that our society's vision for teachers is to remove all individuality, all wiggle-room, all deviations from the norm. In our attempts to make sure that curriculum is presented exactly equally to all students in all schools, we will soon remove teachers all together and replace them with DVD's.

Communications

Twitter Hit By BZPharma LOL Phishing Attack 81

Posted by timothy
from the 140-character-judgment dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Twitter users are being warned not to click on messages saying "'ol, this is funny,' as they can lead to their account details being stolen. A widespread attack has hit Twitter this weekend, tricking users into logging into a fake Twitter page — and thus handing their account details over to hackers. Messages include Lol. this is me?? / lol , this is funny. / ha ha, u look funny on here / Lol. this you?? followed by a link in the form of http://example/ [dot] com/?rid=http://twitter.verify.bzpharma [dot] net/login, where 'example.com' can vary. Clicking on the link redirects users to the second-half of the link, where the fake login page is hosted. In a video and blog entry, computer security firm Sophos is warning users that it is not just Twitter direct messages (DMs) that carry the poisoned links, but they are appearing on public profiles due to services such as GroupTweet which republish direct messages. Sophos also reports that the site being used for the Twitter phishing has also been constructed to steal information from users of the Bebo social network. Affected users are advised to change their passwords immediately."
Microsoft

Craig Mundie Wants "Internet Driver's Licenses" 427

Posted by timothy
from the genuine-advantage dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Craig Mundie, Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer, called for the creation of an 'Internet Driver's License' at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying, 'If you want to drive a car you have to have a license to say that you are capable of driving a car, the car has to pass a test to say it is fit to drive and you have to have insurance.' Of course, there are quite a few problems with this. For starters, internet use cannot yet cause death or dismemberment like car accidents can; and this would get rid of most of the good of internet anonymity while retaining all of the bad parts, especially in terms of expanding the market for stolen identities. Even though telephone networks have long been used by scammers and spammers/telemarketers, we've never needed a 'Telephone Driver's License.'"

Comment: Re:regrets? (Score 4, Insightful) 327

by mctk (#30988778) Attached to: "Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Bill Watterson Looks Back With No Regrets
So incredibly true. Compare the two versions of "The Office." In the UK, they told their story, had some laughs, but when it ran its course, they stopped. I wanted more. I still want more. I'll just have to wait a few years then watch the episodes again. In the US, however, the program is floundering to find weekly topics. And it shows. Once Jim and Pam hooked up, the main tension, the binding thread was gone. Look at "Heroes". Intriguing first season, great climactic moment. But it just...keeps...going. Look at "Lost". I followed the first season closely, but after a while, you start to think that the writers are sitting around going, "Now what can we do this week, without really changing much. After all, we still have 10 more hours of programming to fill." Does anybody even watch The Simpson's anymore?
It's funny.  Laugh.

"Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Bill Watterson Looks Back With No Regrets 327

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the memories-of-better-comics dept.
With fifteen years separating us from the last appearance of "Calvin and Hobbes" on the comic pages, reclusive artist Bill Watterson gave a rare interview reminiscing about his legacy. "The only part I understand is what went into the creation of the strip. What readers take away from it is up to them. Once the strip is published, readers bring their own experiences to it, and the work takes on a life of its own. Everyone responds differently to different parts. I just tried to write honestly, and I tried to make this little world fun to look at, so people would take the time to read it. That was the full extent of my concern. You mix a bunch of ingredients, and once in a great while, chemistry happens. I can't explain why the strip caught on the way it did, and I don't think I could ever duplicate it. A lot of things have to go right all at once."
Math

7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators 289

Posted by timothy
from the open-in-tabs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "One of the basic utilities supplied with any operating system is a desktop calculator. These are often simple utilities that are perfectly adequate for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function. However, the calculators featured in this article are significantly more sophisticated with the ability to process difficult mathematical functions, to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, and much more. Occasionally, the calculator tool provided with an operating system did not engender any confidence. The classic example being the calculator shipped with Windows 3.1 which could not even reliably subtract two numbers. Rest assured, the calculators listed below are of precision quality."
Businesses

Half of US Patents Issued Out of US For Second Year 90

Posted by kdawson
from the foreign-affairs dept.
netbuzz writes "According to a new report from IFI Patent Intelligence, 51% of patents issued by the United States in 2009 went to companies located overseas. While this marks the second consecutive year that a majority of US patents have landed abroad, an author of the report says: 'It's foolhardy to use this statistic to infer that American firms are losing ground to foreign competitors because with patents, it's important to consider quality, as well as quantity.' IBM was once again granted the most patents of any company, 4,914, followed by Samsung and Microsoft."
Businesses

Facebook Mafiosi Go To the Mattresses vs. Zynga 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the concrete-galoshes dept.
sympleko writes "Zynga has the lion's share of traffic in Facebook applications, and Mafia Wars is one of their most popular social games. Collapsing under the weight of over 26 million users, Zynga has been scrambling to thwart hard-core gamers who reverse-engineer URLs or script the game to optimize their enjoyment. Many of the workarounds have annoyed users who were accustomed to various game features, and even worse, the hastily-deployed changes have resulted in many players losing access to the game, in-game prizes, or statistics. Fed up with a software company seemingly bent on discouraging people from enjoying their product, a number of tagged players have organized a boycott of all Zynga games. The first 24-hour boycott on Sunday 12/13 resulted in an 11% decline in Daily Active Users, and an emergency thread on Zynga's forums (from which most of the flames were deleted). The current boycott, extending Wednesday through Sunday is being supported by a 428K strong Facebook group. At issue is the social contract between software companies and their devoted user base, as well as the nefarious tactics Zynga has used to raise cash."

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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