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Comment: C- is the new D (Score 1) 617

by robbievienna (#33060832) Attached to: School District Drops 'D' Grades
In British Columbia, Canada, the school board did away with the D grade. Shortly thereafter, they formalized C- (C-minus) as an "official" grade. (The other pluses and minuses were not official). Effectively, they replaced D with C-. I've seen other schools which mandate that the lowest grade a student can earn in a quarter is 50%... that way, a student who doesn't answer a single test question or do any homework for a whole semester can still salvage his grade with new work in the third and fourth term, and pass. Alternately, once a senior has passes his first semester with a 75% or higher, gotten into his colleges of choice for the following year, there is no way he can fail the course for the year (75+75+50+50)/(4)=62.5, a passing grade.

Comment: Nokia N900 (Score 1) 289

by robbievienna (#32715196) Attached to: Best Phone For a Wi-Fi-Only Location?
Full pocket-sized computer running linux (Maemo comes pre-installed, upgradeable to MeeGo... and Android 2,2 runs beauifullly on it, too). It does everything a laptop computer does - I think you can even get the Gimp running on it. Dell Small Business was selling it for $369 last week (no plans, no locks,etc.), so you can bring it to other countries, buy a local SIM card and you're good to go. More info at Engadget.

Comment: No limits, no borders (Score 1) 245

by robbievienna (#32478472) Attached to: Time For Universal Data Plans?
Unlimited would be great... unfortunately most people forget the most ubiquitous limit: borders. All plans are limited as soon as you cross an international border. There are lots of world travellers who want a low-cost single provider solution. I want something to cover me in New York and Paris and Abu Dhabi.

+ - Quit Facebook Day-> 1

Submitted by robbievienna
robbievienna writes: The movement to quit Facebook due to privacy concerns has just taken a new turn. Over 2^15 facebookers think so, and have pledged to cancel their accounts. Quitting Facebook isn't easy. Facebook is engaging, enjoyable and quite frankly, addictive. Quitting something like Facebook is like quitting smoking. It's hard to stay on the wagon long enough to actually change your habits. Having peer support helps, but the way to quit Facebook is not to start a group on Facebook about leaving Facebook.
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+ - Client-side text filters

Submitted by robbievienna
robbievienna writes: I am using a moderated forum where there is currently a thread advocating censoring language on the forum. So far, the userbase has been acting in good faith, and while adult themes are discussed, it does not happen crudely. In order to prevent a ruling on the matter, I want to promote a client-side text filter, and suggest (politely) that people who do not want to see objectionable words install it. Is anyone aware of a Firefox or Opera add-on that will allow you to specify a blacklist of terms which would then be rendered inline as "----" or "censored" when you view a webpage, while leaving the rest of the text untouched? It seems more commonsensical to allow the readers to determine individually which terms they are exposed to, rather than force everyone to be subjected to the same rules.

+ - Mensa's first 50 years in North America...->

Submitted by robbievienna
robbievienna writes: As many slashdotters know, Mensa is an international high IQ society for people scoring in the 98th percentile. This is the 50th anniversary of Mensa in North America. American Mensa and Mensa Canada will hold their Annual Gatherings together in Detroit, Michigan from June 30th until July 5th. There will be seminars on everything from string theory to smart money management to a Carmina Burana sing-along to a paper-scissors-rock tournament. I'd like to invite everyone to check out http://www.ag2010.us.mensa.org/ for more information about the Annual Gathering.

There is also information on admission requirements, etc. at http://www.us.mensa.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Join . For reference, American Mensa still accepts SAT scores from before 1994 and GRE scores from before 2001 as proof. I'm sure that quite a few of readers will be surprised to discover that they qualify.

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Comment: Sites, certificate authorities, and gov'ts, oh my (Score 1) 309

by robbievienna (#31787040) Attached to: How Truthful Are You When Creating Web Accounts?
I may well trust a site, without necessarily trusting the certificate authority (one of the major North American credit bureaus is a huge CA) or the governments claiming jurisdiction over my data. Keep in mind that governments are now claiming access to data that pass over their wires (i.e. the US accesses data transferred ebtween Mexico and Canada). Sorry, but no sale.

+ - Who are the Certificate Authorities?

Submitted by robbievienna
robbievienna writes: With more more and more articles coming out about the untrustworthiness of several Certificate Authorities, I installed the FireFox plugin Certificate Patrol. What just shocked me is how Equifax, one of the major North American credit reporting bureaus, is the CA issuing the certificates for a number of government forms — where I might be inclined to submit semi-private data. It's becoming clear that CAs might have a vested interest in the information submitted beyond what we might immediately expect. This is obviously a conflict of interest. Should we be worried that just sending certain queries to the government may eventually affect our credit scores?

+ - SPAM: Farmer Discovers Fossil of Ant-Eating Dinosaur

Submitted by coolsuriya
coolsuriya writes: A newfound ant-eating dinosaur was one of the smallest known and also one of the best adapted for running, scientists revealed.A farmer discovered the fossil skeleton of the roughly foot-and-a-half-long creature, named Xixianykus zhangi, in southern Henan in China. The dinosaur lived in a warm, temperate forested environment watered by rivers and lakes alongside duck-billed dinosaurs and likely sail-backed predators known as spinosaurs roughly 89 million to 83 million years ago. Scientists aren't sure how the dinosaur perished, but the fossil is fairly intact compared with many, so another creature probably did not kill it.
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+ - MIT says 'A unified theory of AI' found 1

Submitted by aftab14
aftab14 writes: From the news source:

“What’s brilliant about this (approach) is that it allows you to build a cognitive model in a fantastically much more straightforward and transparent way than you could do before,” says Nick Chater, a professor of cognitive and decision sciences at University College London. “You can imagine all the things that a human knows, and trying to list those would just be an endless task, and it might even be an infinite task. But the magic trick is saying, ‘No, no, just tell me a few things,’ and then the brain — or in this case the Church system, hopefully somewhat analogous to the way the mind does it — can churn out, using its probabilistic calculation, all the consequences and inferences. And also, when you give the system new information, it can figure out the consequences of that.”

News url: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2010/ai-unification.html

+ - A Robot in Every Home Within 10 Years in Korea?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Korea has a stated goal of "a robot in every home by 2020," and Samsung has already developed a robot maid that "recognizes people, can turn on microwave ovens, washing machines and toasters, and also pick up sandwiches, cups and whatever else it senses as objects." One Samsung researcher worked with Georgia Tech on mathematical emotion models for humanoid robots "adapted to the particular requirements of...interactions with humans," and the government's goal is also reflected in Korean graduate school curriculums, which include intelligent robotics and integrated bioscience. After a government-sponsored forum on "Convergence of Biological and Physical Intelligence," AI researcher Ben Goertzel reports gracefully moving, biologically-inspired robots (plus in-depth discussion about AI's ability to forecast power failures on their smart grid). And he even raises the possibility Korea may develop an "internet of things," with communication and connectivity between every smart object.
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+ - Global Warming Begot the "Age of Dinosaurs"

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes: "The Triassic period ended with a mass extinction that allowed dinosaurs to expand into many unoccupied niches and dominate the earth for the next 150 million years. Now Scientific American reports that for the first time scientists have linked the end-Triassic extinction (ETE) to catastrophic climate change through an analysis of carbon isotopes in wood and soil preserved in rocks and found that that the extinction event at the end of the Triassic occurred at the same time as carbon dioxide levels jumped. Geologist Jessica Whiteside of Brown University and her team found a drop in carbon 13 suggesting that more of the lighter isotope of carbon (C 12) had suddenly become available, since plants prefer to use it, which in turn suggests soaring levels of CO2 in the atmosphere providing strong evidence that the eruption of a giant flood of basalt caused a climatic catastrophe resulting in the mass extinction at the end of the Triassic that early dinosaurs were apparently in a good position to exploit. "It does not paint a pretty picture of what happens when CO2 levels rise," writes David Biello adding that it remains to be seen which species might benefit from today's ongoing sixth extinction and its related climate change. "It usually isn't the dominant life forms on the planet at the time.""

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