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Comment: Just Overblown (Score 4, Insightful) 743

by phikapjames (#42052465) Attached to: Student Refusing RFID Badge Now Fights Expulsion Order

After reading the article, I can't find any issues here that can really be raised for a minor in school, that the school is responsible for, that is essentially any different than the school id I had 20 years ago. In the article, it even states the school offered to remove the RFID functionality so that the picture / barcode was left. Even then, wtf, its RFID, not GPS. It's not going to track her location at home and even then, the school isn't telling her to never take it off outside of school hours.

Just more random thoughts:

1) Just like my id from 20 years ago, we had to scan in the mornings for school for attendance which actually made it more efficient for school admins to get a quick idea of who wasn't there and contact parents quickly. The other option is having teachers do it manually, typing into system, and wasting their time.

2) She's a minor that during school hours, the school is responsible for. More power if the school during those hours has a way to keep track of students on property (or lack of being on property) in a more secure way. I bet if for some reason she snuck off and something happened, these parents would be suing for neglecting to keep track of their kid during school hours.

3) If this is such a huge issue, why aren't people going bat shit crazy having to wear their work ids, which most have barcodes, pictures, and rfids these days. Really no difference here people. Wear to work / school, both track you entering and leaving, then that is it.

4) Their reasoning for religious is pure bs. My kid shouldn't wear a badge with the picture during school hours is the mark of the beast. Can you reach any harder for non sense. Again, lots of people for work do the same thing.

Comment: Re:Just turn off the car? (Score 1) 911

by phikapjames (#39675997) Attached to: Mandatory Brake-Override Proposed For All Cars

Also, as someone who drove a '77 mustang when I turned 16 about 20 years after it came out, I can verify that you can drive a vehicle with no power steering at any point in time. That car didn't have power steering back then. You would have never noticed a difference if the car was moving, the only time you ever noticed a difference was when at a full stop trying to turn the wheel (parking, etc).

Comment: Voting for Culture (Score 1) 129

by phikapjames (#39339543) Attached to: Swiss Voters Reject Book Price Controls

From reading his article, he makes it seem less of a money issue (at the end of the day, it is), but more of one for increasing the amount of culture created by these small books stores. He cites Germany that has book prices fixed and how much goes on in the stores at a cultural level with spectacular events, readings, people paying just to partake in the activities. He then goes into how in the US, this is very rare and he feels it's mostly being there are no small book stores for people to have these events.

My opinion is of course, he's wrong. I think it's the culture that wants to do these things, not the fact that small book stores are around. Nothing in the United States is stopping people from putting on their own events like the ones he described in a different venue. The difference is, the two countries just have different tastes in general that aren't tied to the cost of a book and the ability to keep smaller book stores open. I don't completely rule out that more events would probably be available if there were small book stores, just because it would be easier to put them together. I think in general though, if there was a motivated person that wanted to put on a book reading and events like Germany, it would probably get the same response as a smaller bookstore doing the same thing.

He also mentions that it's a problem because the supermarkets that are putting borders out of business only carry a few of the top sellers and that the vast majority of availability of books will be lost. The level of effort to open a book store that carries many different kinds of books is actually very low, if you take into account the internet; Amazon, eBay, your own storefront which could be put together very cheaply with very low operating costs. The super market doesn't have it, the internet will somewhere. You might have to wait a day or two if it is a physical copy.

Moral of the story is, price fixing is price fixing. If you want to delve into the cultural benefits of price fixing books, how about you just organize your own book reading event, advertise by word of mouth, viral, etc, and get the cultural benefits that way. My opinion is there is more cultural benefits to people being able to afford more books to read, then a couple books with the posibility to attend events around that book.

Comment: Private equivalent and generalizing all teachers (Score 1) 557

by phikapjames (#39149529) Attached to: NYC To Release Teacher Evaluation Data Over Union Protests

As per the main article subject line, here's my take on it. A teachers appraisal should be treated like any other private or public employee. The general public in my mind fit into two different categories (but one person can be in both categories):

1) A customer (consumer of goods). By this, I mean they have a student in the district being taught.
2) A share holder. By this, I mean the people paying the taxes to fund the school.

How many of those private companies share their detailed employee appraisals? None that I know of. The customers and share holders do expect that management will have access to those and work with the employees based on them to improve the services being provided, but they aren't demanding to see them. Teachers should be the same way. There are a lot of employees salaries I pay in the private industry that I really have no choice in paying (gas, internet, phone to name a few), but I'm not demanding to see each employee appraisal.

With that said, my next issue is people that are teacher / union bashing. I'm not a teacher and never have been. My mother was a teacher and my wife is a teacher, so I have a really good understanding of what's going on. On top of that, it seems every one of my friends had to go out and marry a teacher. The short answer is, my wife's union has saved her a few times and I would not call it a completely horrible union, while one of my friends wife's union is one I agree with people on is horrible. Here are a few thoughts on each:

My wifes school just went through negotiations. There were no pay increases for 3 years (actually a 3% pay decrease for each of those years). During those negotiations, one of the three elected school board officials that were on the school side was fighting for a steep (about 50%) pay cut because he didn't feel that a teacher should be making much more than someone doing childcare. Without the union there, it probably would have passed and it would have came down to a teacher leaving or taking the cut. My wife has gotten amazing appraisals every year, she would have been in a nursing program and guess how many great kids would have been in the school district left. They didn't care, like a lot of private managers, the $ amount was more than the quality. On top of all that, my wife's health insurance costs more than mine does in the private sector; her copay is now up to $35 for most things non surgical; she doesn't pay social security, but she pays pretty close to what I pay into the program; she has no 401k options; she's required to go back and get college credit on a schedule, but the school pays none of that. Overall, my feeling of her union is that it is pretty on par with what's going on in the private sector. Also, she does have tenure. It wasn't automatic. It was basically she had to teach there 5 years, then she had to apply (not automatic). The year that she applied in she is observed and appraised by all the principals multiple times a month, her lessons plans are inspected weekly, and the final word for tenure comes down at the end of the year. She doesn't get it, then she has to apply again the next year. Needless to say, she got it with amazing reviews from all the administration (as high as they were allowed, since the superintendent stipulated that no reviews are allowed a perfect score).

Now the bad side of the equation, my friends wife. She actually started complaining that at the same year negotiations for her school district, that they were only getting a 2% raise the next two years, that she had to pay a $5 copay now, and that she has to start paying into her pension retirement (schools not going to pay it all anymore). That my friends, is a union not keeping up with the private industry. Oh ya, she also got automatic tenure after three years without doing anything. The only way to fire her now is to have the union do it basically.

Comment: One app to make, multiple to purchase (Score 5, Insightful) 197

by phikapjames (#38757190) Attached to: The Headaches of Cross-Platform Mobile Development

The one thing that irks me a bit about this whole situation is them complaining that they just can't write the code once and have it work across the different platforms, yet I'm still required to buy the same software separately on each platform. In my mind, you justify the cost to make it work for that platform by selling it on the specific platform. My opinion would probably be different though if I was able to buy the app once and not have to pay on each separate platform.

Comment: Re:I was going to say... (Score 0) 356

by phikapjames (#38531166) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Android Tablet For Travel?

As much as I loved putting CM7 on the Nook Color for my wife to use as a 7" tablet, I would highly recommend against this option. Also, any other tablet that was built for a different OS and people built some android roms to work with it, in this case I'm thinking the Touchpad.

Beyond the fact that a rooted Nook Color doesn't fit his needs at all (no front or back camera, no mic, and the need to down convert the bitrate on most shows that he would watch on the plane), there's the "buggy" issue. There's always little bugs here and there on the color that usually aren't a problem, but when you're on a plane with no internet or in another country with internet rarely, they can get frustrating when you can't fix them.

With the ops needs, he really should buy a tablet that either comes vanilla in good shape or at least has roms that are closer to the original than the color and cm7 combination.

Again, not putting down the Nook Color and CM7 (wife has one), but from experience with her on vacation and random bugs that crop up between builds, I just wouldn't do it for a long trip.

Comment: Re:Cue holy war in 3..2.. (Score 2, Informative) 356

by phikapjames (#38531004) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Android Tablet For Travel?

I couldn't agree more with this post. Do not discount the original transformer at all. At this point, I fully believe it is the best tegra2 android tablet (that is easily accessible to buy) that will fit your needs specified. I'm only going to discuss the original one and not the new Prime.

The main reason that I love it so much is the dock. You mentioned that you want to use it for long trips, which with the attached dock, will give you a second battery to burn on the trip, and also make a nice stand for watching it on the tray in front of you. The keyboard with ssh is wonderful, as I use it all the time. It is very helpful for taking into meetings for taking notes also. It has all the good ports that every other one you mentioned as (some in dock and some in tablet), but some additional ones are:

- The full sdcard reader, which will make looking at pictures from a camera nice
- Full USB (on dock) which works good for watching moves off a usb flash drive instead of dealing with microsd cards or if you don't have enough internal storage
- The ability to charge from USB (trickle). Seems minor, but my other tablet, Iconia can only be charged from the short corded adapter. It's annoying.

I love that you don't have to use the dock though. I probably only use the dock about 15% of the time and the rest of the time is using it as a tablet. I also like the little touches that were added when you plug in external storage. The Iconia is difficult to navigate to the plugged in storage (microsd and usb). When you plug one of those into the transformer, it pops up a notification that you can then click to open up a file manager to that directory.

When you do your searching though, here's a few things that caught me off guard when I was searching:
- Make sure it supports all the ports you want. Some have hdmi, some don't have microsd or full size usb. Some don't have anything but a custom docking port that you need to buy adapters to use other ports with
- Even if the tablet has a camera on the back, I would highly recommend that you only buy ones that also have a flash of some kind. Makes a big difference in the pictures even if it is a cheap LED. I believe the Thrive is one without a Flash, which surprised the heck out of my friend when he tried to take a picture afterwards.
- It seemed minor at first, but the ability to charge through usb (or micro usb) is a huge ability for me. Even if it is only trickle charging ability, even if having to charge it overnight while you sleep slowly. This would have came in handy a lot on trips in the past.

Comment: Re:But how do you quit? (Score 0) 286

by phikapjames (#33794620) Attached to: Skype Officially Available For Android
This is a major problem. It took me forever to figure out how to close the app. You have to log out from your account to stop it.

1) Click the "My info" button at the top
2) Click on the menu button
3) Click the "Sign out" option

That's the only way beyond forcing shutdown or rebooting to quit out. Even more annoying, it won't save your password if you don't have it log in automatically.

Comment: Don't get too excited for the old equipment (Score 1, Interesting) 350

by phikapjames (#33526786) Attached to: Broadcom Releases Source Code For Drivers
As the article states, the source only supports the newer 11n chipsets, which is currently BCM4313, BCM43224, and BCM43225. G and lower chipsets still have to use the older crusty stuff. Still something good to look towards the future for. I'm going to be keeping an eye out for routers that have those chipsets and are dd-wrt compatible in the future when I move to N now.

Comment: College has strict requirements sometimes (Score 0) 724

by phikapjames (#17764038) Attached to: The Best Graphing Calculator on the Market?
I graduated from the College of Engineering at the University of Cincinnati not to long ago. For both our calc and physic classes, we were pretty much limited to a TI-89 or TI-92. You could use below the TI-89, but it didn't have enough functions for the higher level calc, so it was pretty useless. I do remember some students would bring in other makes and most times (not always) they were not permitted to use them. The professors said they didn't know the models and were afraid they might have additional features which would permit cheating. Also don't go to high in the TI line-up. Some also come with keyboards, which everytime a student came in the room with those, the calc was banned. The TI-92 was pretty much the safest calculator which had everything you needed for both physics, calc IV, and beyond.

Once you get into signal processing, you will be using matlab or equivalent software.

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder

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