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Comment Re:What a Surprise (Score 1) 57

I think you're being a bit unfair towards some of the ideas. I see a lot of potential, for example, in being able to generate randomized, individualized, instantly-graded homework sets for students. A lot of these systems are pretty "smart," and can identify a student's individual weaknesses and give them more practice where they need it. They can also let students zip past the parts they already understand and so get to harder material as appropriate. The teacher plays an important role in being able to provide assistance to the students that are stuck. With a classroom of 30 students, expecting a teacher to generate this level of individualized work for each student on their own is impractical.

Comment Note about Ekhad (Score 5, Interesting) 185

I'm not sure if the original submitter had his tongue in cheek by describing the co-author Ekhad as a "computer scientist." Just in case he didn't, note that Shalosh B. Ekhad is actually Zeilberger's computer. Since most of Zeilberger's research depends heavily on computations, and (I think) as a nod to some of his philosophical positions, Zeilberger usually lists his computer as a coauthor on his papers. So I guess Ekhad is a computer scientist, but not quite in the way we usually mean. :)

Comment Re:Book reviews? (Score 1) 531

The answers to your questions depend on what you think is the purpose of a published book review.

In my discipline (mathematics), reviews of research monographs that appear in journals usually have an opening paragraph describing the book under review and a couple of closing paragraphs summarizing the contents of the book, judging the quality of the book, and sometimes listing the errors found by the reviewer. In between those paragraphs are pages and pages in which the reviewer usually gives his or her personal view of the subject of the book. That is, book reviews are seen as excuses for a reviewer to write exposition about a subject he or she enjoys. I think it's a little strange, and rarely interesting, but that's the norm.

I agree with the sentiment I once read that it's a waste of time to review a bad book, especially a mediocre one. A book review should, in my opinion, either steer the reader towards a book worth reading, explaining why the book is worthy and important; or, in cases of books published with a lot of fanfare (e.g., Wolfram's A New Kind of Science), discuss the merits or lack thereof of a book of which the reader is already aware. Why waste the time of reviewers and readers trashing a book no one will hear of otherwise? Just let such books die deservedly in obscurity.

A notable exception is an entertaining review of a truly wretched book. That's fun to read, but only if the reviewer is sufficiently talented to pull it off.

Businesses

EA Shuts Down Pandemic Studios, Cuts 200 Jobs 161

lbalbalba writes "Electronic Arts is shutting down its Westwood-based game developer Pandemic Studios just two years after acquiring it, putting nearly 200 people out of work. 'The struggling video game publisher informed employees Tuesday morning that it was closing the studio as part of a recently announced plan to eliminate 1,500 jobs, or 16% of its global workforce. Pandemic has about 220 employees, but an EA spokesman said that a core team, estimated by two people close to the studio to be about 25, will be integrated into the publisher's other Los Angeles studio, in Playa Vista.' An ex-developer for Pandemic attributed the studio's struggles to poor decisions from the management."
Games

Aion Open Beta Starts September 6th 147

NCSoft announced today that the open beta for upcoming fantasy MMO Aion will begin on September 6th, extending through to the 13th. The client is available now. The game launches on September 22nd in the US, with a two-day head-start given to players who pre-order. NCSoft has also said they'll be showing off Aion in more detail at the Penny Arcade Expo, expanding on the information they provided at Gamescom (video).

Comment Re:You forgot the Toshiba which beats both (Score 1) 238

I suppose the GP is talking about the Toshiba NB205. Although it doesn't have a 12" screen, it does have a full-size keyboard, and the wife and I have been exceptionally pleased with the one we bought a month ago. The full-size "chiclet"-style keyboard is what finally sold it to us -- I tried out several other models, and I just couldn't see myself enjoying typing on the smaller keyboards for long. Now that I've entered the realm of the truly portable computer, I don't think I'll ever want to go back!
The Courts

Couple Who Catch Cop Speeding Could Face Charges 876

a_nonamiss writes "A Georgia couple, apparently tired of people speeding past their house, installed a camera and radar gun on their property. After it was installed, they caught a police office going 17MPH over the posted limit. They brought this to the attention of the local police department, and are now being forced to appear in front of a judge to answer to charges of stalking."

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.

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