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Slashback: Wikipedia Correction, NASA Tape, BPI Rejected 146

Slashback tonight brings some clarifications and updates to previous Slashdot stories including: Reuters offers correction to Wikipedia slam, Lord of the Rings stage show ends, duct tape holds NASA together again, UK ISP rejects BPI request, Maine renews middle-school laptop program, British ID cards get a rethink, and China to further regulate internet use -- Read on for details.

Reuters offers correction to Wikipedia slam. junger writes "Reuters put out a hit piece on Wikipedia, saying that the encyclopedia wasn't credible in 'covering' the breaking news of the death of Enron's Ken Lay, but then Reuters has to correct their own story because they couldn't properly identify one of their sources."

Lord of the Rings stage show ends. l8f57 writes "After only 3 months, the 'Lord Of The Rings' stage show in Toronto, Ontario Canada is ending early. According to the Globe & Mail, the producers are blaming the critics for giving it a bad review. It looks like the last show is scheduled for September 3, 2006. Ticketmaster still has tickets available for shows up to the end."

Duct tape holds NASA together again. vasanth writes to tell us NASA has solved another problem with their favorite repair device, a roll of duct tape. From the article: "First pressed into service during the homemade repairs that saved Apollo 13 from disaster in 1970, the tape has since been at the center of a variety of ingenious quick fixes dreamed up by the space agency's scientists. The latest patch-up will secure British astronaut Piers Sellers to his jet-propelled backpack today for the final spacewalk of the shuttle Discovery's 13-day mission to the International Space Station."

UK ISP rejects BPI request. Glyn writes "One of the ISPs that the British recording industry tried to strong-arm into terminating customers' accounts on accusation of file-sharing has responded with an emphatic no. From the response: 'You have sent us a spreadsheet setting out a list of 17 IP addresses you allege belong to Tiscali customers, whom you allege have infringed the copyright of your members, together with the dates and times and with which sound recording you allege that they have done so. You have also sent us extracts of screenshots of the shared drive of one of those customers. You state that such evidence is "overwhelming". However, you have provided no actual evidence in respect of 16 of the accounts. Further, you have provided no evidence of downloading taking place nor have you provided evidence that the shared drive was connected by the relevant IP address at the relevant time. Similar requests we have dealt with in the past, have included such information and, indeed, the bodies conducting those investigations have felt that a court would consider it necessary to see such evidence, supported by sworn statements, before being able to grant any order.'"

Maine renews middle-school laptop program. markhb writes "The State of Maine has renewed its controversial 'Laptops for Middle-schoolers' program this week. Apple won the contract once again, this time for $41 million, and gets to provide another 36,000 brand-spanking-new iBooks. New this time around: all districts will be required to let the kids take the laptops home, and private and parochial schools will also be invited to join in the fun!"

British ID cards get a rethink. OutOfMyTree writes "The British ID card scheme will miss its planned roll-out date of 2008, according to leaked emails seen by the Sunday Times. In fact civil servants leading the project are afraid that if government ministers keep on 'ignoring reality' the whole mess may be bad enough to delay the acceptance of ID cards for another generation. The contracts already in place are in difficulties because of 'the amount of rethinking going on about identity management', and the escalating costs."

China to further regulate internet use. anaesthetica writes "Director of the Information Office of the State Council, Cai Wu, has announced that new internet control measures are needed. New initiatives include monitoring blogs and search engines, as well as mandatory cellphone and website registration. With 16 million bloggers and 97 million search engine users, the Chinese authorities see search engines as the 'choke point' for information. From the article: 'The potential new regulations, which are still in the discussion stage, are being considered at a time of exploding Internet and cellphone use that has created the freest atmosphere of communication this country has known under Communist rule, despite strenuous government efforts to contain it.'"

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: Wikipedia Correction, NASA Tape, BPI Rejected

Comments Filter:
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:05PM (#15709448) Homepage Journal
    the producers are blaming the critics for giving it a bad review.

    OK, critics sometimes do miss the point. It's not uncommon for a newspaper to assign the critic who likes family dramas to review the latest sci-fi extravaganza, in which case a bad review means nothing more than that the critic wasn't in the target audience for the film.

    That said, if Lord of the Rings: The Musical really was as bad as the reviews suggested, the problem isn't the reviews, but the show. In that case, the bad reviews are only a symptom.

    Has anyone here seen the show? I remember the reviews were terrible, but Toronto is a little out of my way...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm a pretty big fan of LOTR, and I saw the show with my family a few weeks ago.

      Its as marvelous a show as someone could make of LOTR. That being said, after seeing it I think LOTR just doesn't appear adapt well to live theatre. They spent tons of money on it, the choreography is astounding, etc, etc, and portions of it are actually from the books and weren't in the movies (kudos to the writers).

      But in the end, they know that its a double-edged sword: they get tickets because of the movies, but they get bad
    • LotR the musical (Score:5, Informative)

      by woozlewuzzle ( 532172 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:35PM (#15709590)
      My wife and I went to go see it in the spring and enjoyed it very much. Of course, we are both big LotR fans and know the story well. A large portion of the audience were seniors who get the tickets as part of their yearly subscription. Some walked out - there's know way you could follow the story without already knowing it ahead of time.

      As a show for fans of the stories, I'd recommend it. For people who just love good theatre - this probably isn't it. Everything you'd like in a show - character development, a clear story line, etc. just aren't there.
      • A large portion of the audience were seniors who get the tickets as part of their yearly subscription. Some walked out - there's know way you could follow the story without already knowing it ahead of time.

        Perhaps they thought they were going to see the sequel to Lord of the Dance.

        If that was the case, I'd leave too.
      • Re:LotR the musical (Score:3, Informative)

        by Astin ( 177479 )
        I saw it, and I'm a huge fan of both LotR and musicals. It wasn't good.

        I have an overly long post on my blog, but I'm not one for blog-whoring, so no link :)

        Short version:

        Pros:
        - visually stunning - Balrog, Ents, Riders, etc... excellent. Stage direction is fantastic.
        - great sound - theatre with surround sound is great
        - Elevators in the stage - makes mountains mountains, and hills are hills, battles range over a changing landscape.
        - they try to cover the major points in the book - razing of the shire is th
    • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:49PM (#15709629)

      I still remember some fool critic in the Los Angeles Times years ago criticizing an Iron Maiden album (Somewhere In Time) for having songs about weird topics (Alexander The Great, for example). He went on and on about how such topics were "nothing a teenager can sink their teeth into".

      If the dumbass did even 2 seconds of research on Iron Maiden, he would have learned that lots of their songs are like that, and that's, in fact, why a lot of people like them. So he criticized from ignorance, and also put down a whole class of people (teenagers) in the process.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I saw it in its 4th week. I live in Toronto and bought a Mirvish series subscription just because of the LOTR. I sat through "Moving Out" as a result. Perhaps that is to everyone's taste, but I have discovered that I now intensely hate Billy Joel.

      Anyway, yes, I would argue that the LOTR onstage was pretty bad. It's long. Three acts. Over three hours. My wife did not make the third act.

      Visually, stunning. Seeing the Balrog at the end of Scene 1 was probably the best bit of the entire show. I would argue that
    • OK, critics sometimes do miss the point. It's not uncommon for a newspaper to assign the critic who likes family dramas to review the latest sci-fi extravaganza, in which case a bad review means nothing more than that the critic wasn't in the target audience for the film.

      I don't think this was the case here. All of the Toronto theatre critics hated LoTR. The pop-culture critics gave it the benefit of the doubt. I think that they knew it wasn't very good, but they wanted the show to succeeed and bring visit

  • mwa ha ha (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spykemail ( 983593 )
    Sounds like Reuters committed a classic internet blunder: doing the very thing you're critisizing while critisizing it.

    Yay for ducktape, British ISPs with balls, and the State of Maine (why the hell are they getting iBooks though?).
    • Re:mwa ha ha (Score:3, Informative)

      by peragrin ( 659227 )
      Easier to administer, and no known viruses in the wild and both potential exploits were either patched before the exploit was noticed or within hours afterwards.

      When reliability is needed because kids are smart and will get around other defenses you don't want windows that break easily. hence why most schools have safety glass for their doors and windows.

    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:03PM (#15709677) Homepage Journal
      Reuters committed a classic internet blunder: doing the very thing you're critisizing while critisizing it.

      Classic blunders.... Ah, yes! As I recall, the most famous is never get involved in a flame war in Asia....

    • You hit the nail on the head with the 'classic internet blunder' - people lambasting Reuters/AP/conventional media for their flaws when things like Wikipedia are just as flawed.

      Something something glass houses something something stones.

      • Re:mwa ha ha (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shaper_pmp ( 825142 )
        Sorry - did I miss something... did Wikipedia publish a hatchet-job indictment of AP?

        No, wait, it was yet another example of Old Media going after New Media.

        And proving in the process that while New Media may have its flaws, they aren't anything that Old Media doesn't also often suffer from. And that one of the true major differences between the two is that New Media tends to be more visible, transparent and honest about them when they occur.

        What was your point again?
    • Re:mwa ha ha (Score:4, Informative)

      by linguae ( 763922 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:25PM (#15709766)
      why the hell are they getting iBooks though

      Remember:

      • A great deal of educational software hasn't been made into Universal Binaries yet (and translating PPC code to x86 is a performance hit, although Rosetta is doing very well).
      • Speaking of software, some people in the education market haven't even moved off of Classic yet. (For example, at my university, the physics department still used a Classic application for physics motion diagrams. I saw Framemaker a few years ago at a graphics lab a year ago at a community college; to my knowledge, there is no OS X version of Framemaker. The physics department has invested in the Mac since the 80s; I once saw a stack of Macintosh SEs, SE/30s, Classics, and an old Power Mac 9600 around).

      A G4 Mac with Classic support would fit the education market's needs better, for now. Once OS X-ported software gets Universal Binary support, and once people finally let go of Classic, then we'll see the education market adopt the Intel Macs in much larger numbers. (With all PowerPC Macs except for the Power Mac G5 discontinued, Classic users better find or code alternatives to their programs if they intend on upgrading.)

    • Sounds like Reuters committed a classic internet blunder: doing the very thing you're critisizing while critisizing it.

      At least they didn't go in against a Sicilian when death was on the line!
  • Don't these critics realize that people are trying to make a living here?!!!
  • by Pheersome ( 116234 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:14PM (#15709498)
    Oh noes, somebody at Reuters made a mistake! Amazing as this may sound, professional news organizations do issue corrections from time to time. Why am I not defending Wikipedia in the same statement? The charged and misleading language that appeared on Wikipedia was intentionally put up by some random person.

    "And journalism has sunk to a new low"? Come down off your high horse, Mr Unger.
    • Also note that the reuters story was NOT WRONG. Just list the wrong source. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The Reuters story was not wrong. It just said that the family claimed he died of a heart attack when actually the family did not say that. Right.

        What's really intesting about this is that most of the critics of Wikipedia are clearly motivated by fear of their jobs. Andrew Orlowski has at least admitted his bias almost openly ("can't _we_ do better") but the rest are just a bunch of trolls. Well, Orlowski is a troll too, but at least he's occasionally a funny troll.
    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      The charged and misleading language that appeared on Wikipedia was intentionally put up by some random person.

      And? Some people are like that. After that, a great many people intentionally corrected the story and made sure it stayed that way.

      Wikipedia, mainstream encyclopedias and news make errors for differing reasons. All three have correction mechanisms that mostly work. Nobody would have made a big deal of the Reuters correction at all if it hadn't been dripping with irony. It's as if a grammar naz

    • Pheersome, you obviously wouldn't know what irony was if it hit you over the head with a hammer. That statement was tongue-in-cheek.

      The point is that Reuters slammed Wikipedia for not getting the facts straight, and in the process screwed up their own story.
    • Reuters and other traditional news organizations are threatened by Wikipedia and news blogs. The original article just looked like an opportunity to take some shots at wikipedia and was pretty lame. They frankly seem scared. It just seems extremely odd for them to report such a non-event.

      I think instead of attacking new forms of information delivery they should work on becoming a more credible news source. Mainstream media has become horrible in the past few years.
    • by Siward ( 966440 )
      I've got to agree here. Reuters misidentified the person who gave them the cause of death. It wasn't as if the source originally said "died from alien anal probe" and then later recanted. I love Wikipedia and all, but this guy is doing them a disservice by pretending to understand actual journalism. Wikipedia would be better served by a critical article that shed light on both sides of the issue and offered some solutions or alternatives to the current method, not some tow-the-line, open-for-everyone-is-alw
      • We can (Score:3, Informative)

        We could apply semi-protection, but at the same time you should have seen the article about the 7 July 2005 London bombings [wikipedia.org]. Speculation was rife with, at one point, a edit coming in every 1-2 seconds. However, by now we have a very factual and very informative article. It's not always good to place semi-protection on a rapidly evolving article.

        I think the bottom line, which everyone has so far missed, is that you should be checking your sources on Wikipedia before trusting it completely. I know I do, and I
        • Actually I think the point which many people are missing is: You should be checking your sources. There's a chance that anything you read/hear is wrong. If it's important make sure you back it up with independent corroberation.
  • Way to go (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrShaggy ( 683273 ) <chris...anderson@@@hush...com> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:19PM (#15709532) Journal
    ISP. Its nice to see someone not rolling over so easy. Maybe GOOGLE set precedent with the way they said no to the American government. Maybe this will be another 'just say no' generation :L
    • Re:Way to go (Score:2, Informative)

      by zxsqkty ( 869685 )
      They didn't say "no". They simply asked for more evidence before they act. They also set out the terms under which they would accept that evidence, based on previous successful legal challenges.

      "Give us this, that, and the other and we'll play along."

      Essentially they just pumped the ball back into the BPIs court, now we get to wait for their return volley.

      I get the impression the BPI just shot out a standard letter from their legal dept., but the accusation's not sufficient evidence for the ISP to act again
  • Errr... that would be MacBooks thank you.
    • It would be par for the course to have Apple foist left over iBooks on the MLTI.

      Even better to have Apple keep making them for 4 more years. Spares and such being such fun when models go into end-of-life.

      Ah, my former employer is no doubt toasting the State of Maine. Doing third-party repair is a lucrative business, considering Apple's ineptitude.

      rick
    • Re:iBooks? (Score:4, Informative)

      by linguae ( 763922 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:32PM (#15709794)

      No, they are really getting iBooks. (The online Apple Store for Education at my school is still selling iBook G4s, even today). An end-of-the-line iBook would give you better performance at running PowerPC applications than a MacBook would (PPC emulation on a x86 results in a performance hit, although Rosetta seems to be handling the task well; and most big software packages won't have Universal Binaries until 2007). Remember that many education users still use Classic applications; you can't run Classic on an Intel Mac.

      Buying a PowerPC Mac today isn't a crazy idea, especially if you want something proven to be reliable (have you heard about the problems plauging the MacBook and MacBook Pro lately?) and works flawlessly with existing (and old) software.

      • I'd disagree, though you raise a valid point. First, we're already over halfway through 2006 (yikes!), so 2007 UniBin releases aren't that far off. Second, a Core Duo x86 chip running Rosetta emulation will often be equal to, if not faster than, the original PPC-software-on-PPC-hardware solution. Varies by application a bit, but AFAIK Rosetta is threaded and thus you gain back your performance hit and then some by having two cores. Seems like a bit of an oversight on someone's part (I'm going to have to
    • Re:iBooks? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 )
      Actually, no. It is iBooks, not MacBooks.

      Why?
      • iBooks are cheaper. They're costing about $289/yr. The MacBooks would be more expensive.
      • iBooks are more reliable. MacBooks are still getting the kinks worked out. You want to deal with recalling several thousand MacBooks?
      • Most software is still PowerPC. Why pay extra money to run emulated software?

      There's no need for the State of Maine to pay more money for hassles and reduced performance just to be on the bleeding edge. In four years, the kinks will be

      • Re:iBooks? (Score:3, Informative)

        by markhb ( 11721 )
        I found a deployment page [maine.gov] on the MLTI site that has PDFs of all the materials that were sent out to the school systems. They are, indeed, as you say, G4 iBooks, with 1 GB RAM, OS X 10.4, a 40 GB hard drive and a new "online learning management system," StudyWiz [studywiz.com], preinstalled, whatever that is. Note that the StudyWiz website claims the software is being installed in "all schools in the state," which is just plain wrong (it's only the 7th and 8th grades that are getting the MLTI stuff).
  • ISP v BPI (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tx ( 96709 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:21PM (#15709540) Journal
    That's a strange one, because the ISP in question is well known to be p2p-unfriendly, in terms of blocking ports and throttling traffic. I'd have thought they'd be first in line to roll over for the BPI, can't help but wonder if their response is mainly for the good publicity it will generate.
    • Re:ISP v BPI (Score:4, Informative)

      by topham ( 32406 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:27PM (#15709557) Homepage

      Due to the Privacy regulations in the U.K. it wouldn't matter if they wanted to provide the data or not.

      They are not allowed.

      They need a court order.
    • Re:ISP v BPI (Score:5, Informative)

      by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:34PM (#15709584)
      Nope it's more they are covering their arse. read it again the BPI sent 17 notices, but 16 were lacking evidence. That means the 17th had enough evidence for the ISP lawyers to allow it to be "processed" in whatever the normal way is.

      the ISP is simply not going to be sued by their customers for canceling accounts when no proof of illegal activities were done. Provide the evidence, and they will comply.

      • Re:ISP v BPI (Score:3, Informative)

        by mooingyak ( 720677 )
        read it again the BPI sent 17 notices, but 16 were lacking evidence. That means the 17th had enough evidence for the ISP lawyers to allow it to be "processed" in whatever the normal way is.

        Actually, they said 16 completely lacked evidence, and one had crappy evidence. They responded with a no for all 17.
  • by technoextreme ( 885694 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:22PM (#15709545)
    Im confused the bombardment of UV rays from the sun would mean that most plastic materials would turn into goop and become useless. Does that mean duct tape can withstand UV rays or is it just a kludge? I know there is certain tapes developed from NASA that I use every day but it isn't duct tape (It's Kapton tape).
    • What if your ducts are made of Kapton?

      KFG
    • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:07PM (#15709695) Journal
      Im confused the bombardment of UV rays from the sun would mean that most plastic materials would turn into goop and become useless. Does that mean duct tape can withstand UV rays or is it just a kludge? I know there is certain tapes developed from NASA that I use every day but it isn't duct tape (It's Kapton tape).

      First of all, they did actually use Kapton tape [octanecreative.com] for the repair. It appears that somehow the news reports have confused it with duct tape because both are carried on shuttle missions.

      I seriously doubt that duct tape is rated for outer space. It can withstand a wide temperature range (after all, it was designed to tape ducts, right?) but surely not as wide as Kapton (see the linked article.) Also, the adhesive on the tape has to be space-rated, and I'm not sure duct tape satisfies that requirement.

      Another issue for materials used in space: they must not release gasses when exposed to a vacuum. This is not so much of an issue for the shuttle and the astronauts (the space environment around the shuttle is pretty filthy already) but it is important for unmanned satellites with sensitive instruments that can pick up such gasses as false readings of the space environment. Even a fingerprint on a surface exposed to a vacuum can cause a problem -- another good reason to assemble everything in a clean room and wear gloves. IIRC, Kapton satisfies all of these requirements, and I really doubt duct tape would. You can smell duct tape, so I suppose it would outgas in a vacuum like crazy, especially if you let it heat up.
    • Duct tape was not created by mortal man. God saw the need to have an incredibly strong adhesive surface bound to a strip of synthetic fibers.

      As such, duct tape can assume an infinite number of forms and uses, and is nearly impenetrable to all natural phenomena that faces it.

      Indeed duct tape is the force that holds the world together and is the secret to all Physics-related questions.

    • I thought I read somewhere that NASA does use some special tapes, that it's not generic duct tape.
  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:31PM (#15709572) Homepage Journal
    Obviously the story was intended as a slam on Wikipedia, but I read it as just the opposite. The story was breaking, and within a very short time, the Wikipedia article evolved into something respectable. Sure, it took some wrong turns, but they didn't last for more than a few minutes. Reuters described Wikipedia working exactly the way it is supposed to work.
  • by mrcaseyj ( 902945 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:35PM (#15709587)
    Anyone who thinks Wikipedia is reliable is crazy. Whether it's more or less reliable than traditional sources is irrelevant. Wikipedia is a revolutionary and extremely valuable means of information distribution. It's complementary to other sources. I don't think it's misleading, because they're very up front about where the information comes from (i.e. anybody). I fear that if it gets as popular as say google, that it may be destroyed by the same kind of manipulation that ravages the search engines.
    • by epine ( 68316 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:16PM (#15709727)
      This tripe gets upgraded as informative? If that post passes as "information" we hardly need to begin debating the Wikipedia.

      the same kind of manipulation that ravages the search engines

      Not displayed two nerve cells to rub together. Sesame Street goes to a lot of trouble to teach "same" and "different". They only fail in one respect: to point out that it is a lifelong learning project.

      What search engine has a centralized, permanent revision history log with a "one click" undo-abuse button? What makes the Wikipedia situation the same as the search engine or spam or blog abuse problems? I can answer that question: approaching the situation with roughly the same level of intellectual accuity required to analyze the plot in Pirates of the Caribbean. They are good guys trying to get something done. There are bad guys who would like to game the system to their advantage. The bad guys have a revenue stream from their sales of creams and extensions. Good guys respond valiantly. Bad guys scale up faster than good guys, because they have more money to burn, and fewer scruples. Good guys hang heads and mope and tell teary stories about the sad end of the good old days.

      Fast forward to reality. Bad guys orchestrate 10,000 spambots to hack the Wikipedia. Really pissed of Wikipedia PHP programmer writes script to auto-revert wholesale damage. Another small roadblock is soon erected to prevent "new user" accounts from making certain kinds of edits visible immediately. Bad guys crawl back into dark hole and return to their original campaign of identity fraud against the hopeless banking establishment that came up with the idea that making purchases over the phone by reciting a fixed string of credit-card digits was a good security mechanism.

      Get a grip, people. Wikipedia is far harder to abuse than the payment system adopted by the world's richest and most powerful banking institutions. Yes, there will be some outages and growing pains. No, Wikipedia will not degenerate into a spam slum overnight, or anytime soon. Wikipedia is presently most vulnerable to DOS attacks not outright manipulation. Until Google volunteers to host the front-end squid-cache layer. The edit layer can be partially filtered to prioritize access from long-time editors in good standing. Collatoral damage to long-time Wikipedians trying to edit from behind the AOL proxy server. Great outpouring of grief. World comes to an end.

      • I'm sorry if I confused anyone. I should have said "similar kind of manipulation". Wikipedia has a lot of effective defense mechanisms, but I think it will be degraded considerably if it ever becomes as big a target as google. In the early days of the web, search engines returned wonderfully useful results because they hadn't been wrecked by search engine optimization. Those days didn't last long. Wikipedia may be able to fight off total destruction, but I'll be amazed if it isn't severely degraded. Then ag
        • IMO, search engines, such as Google, return better results now than Yahoo!, Lycos, or Altavista returned in 1996. I remember one time where I searched for information about Starfox, and one of the returned results was "Fuck Tits Ass Nude". Searching for information on another video game, was where I learned the phrase "popping cherries". In recent years, I have only seen commercial hijacking of search engines if my query related to sexuality.
          • >IMO, search engines, such as Google, return better results now than Yahoo!, Lycos, or Altavista returned in 1996.

            Which part of 1996? I don't remember which years but if my memory serves me, search quality degraded very rapidly when searching became popular. At one point, before I found out about Google, I had basically given up on search engines because they barely returned anything but garbage. Google was revolutionary, but it's nothing compared to what it would be if they didn't have to fight spamme

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Reuters' story was wrong, we had to wait until they corrected it. If they hadn't bothered, it'd remain like that forever. If it was a Wikipedia article, the community would have corrected it!
    • Errr, we still had to wait till Wikipedia corrected it - it's just that WP had more people around who /could/ correct it. And then uncorrect it. And then reinsert same information more subtlely to escape detection while pushing their own cause.

      Your "point" has little to do with Reuters. If noone bothers to correct errors in Wikipedia, and some amazingly big errors have stood untouched in it for a long time, it'll remain like that forever.

      Lest you think I'm a WP-hater, quite the opposite - I'm a regular cont

  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) * on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:58PM (#15709660) Homepage Journal
    That's over $1138 per laptop. Doesn't sound like a very good deal to me, especially for that large a quantity. I just bought an HP Pavilion dv5210us at Fry's for $649, and there's a $50 mail-in rebate. I'm fairly sure that if I called HP to try to place an order for 36,000 of them, the price would be even better. It has a 15 inch LCD with 1280x800 resolution, an AMD Turion ML-34 processor (64 bit, 1.8 GHz), 512MB of RAM, and a 60GB hard drive. It came with Windows XP Home, though the first thing I did was to replace that with Fedora Core 5. Anyhow, what's so wonderful about the laptops Apple is supplying for this contract that makes them worth almost twice the price?

    I'm sure some of you are going to say "Mac OS", but I'm not at all convinced that Mac OS is a win for educational users, as there appears to be a far better selection of educational software for Windows.

    If I was a Maine taxpayer, I think I'd be calling and writing my state legislators demanding an investigation.

    • Some of us did. No luck.

      Of course, the contract includes warranty support, Apple engineers providing bullet-proof, secure, unhackable images of OS X for student use, and inestimable technical support...

      Yeah, I know. Unhackable. Just tellin' ya what the contractors say.

      I've worked with a lot of Maine school systems to adapt their systems to the iBooks. It was a little like pulling teeth from a squid.

      rick
    • Absolutely! Because for that $649 you'll also throw in teacher training, wiring up the schools, software, and replacing the laptop should it get lost or broken.
      • While the contract includes "support", I very much doubt that it includes teacher training, software (other than the operating system and the software normally distributed with the operating system), or replacement of stolen machines.

        To the extent that it does include any software beyond the OS, I can't imagine that it's particularly expensive software that can justify any significant portion of the total cost of the laptop.

    • by larkost ( 79011 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:26PM (#15709767)
      And that investigation would reveal that Apple is also providing servers, wireless nodes (carts), service for the duration, training for the teachers (god help those poor trainers), and extensive support. I think your math is missing some components.
      • I've seen vendor-provided "training". It's rubbish, and the support isn't much better. Certainly not worth paying double the price of the hardware. And the cost of a few server machines and wireless nodes should be in the noise compared to the cost of the laptops themselves. We're not talking enterprise class on-line transaction processing systems with SANs here. Just a few file servers.

        If they had requested separate bids for computers and for support, I think they could have gotten a MUCH better dea

    • Are you using iBook ($949 for 12", $1199 for 14"; those are education prices) prices or MacBook prices? If you were using iBook prices, then I would definitely agree with your argument. If you were using MacBook prices, then that would be unfair. Your Pavillion isn't dual core and doesn't have the features that the MacBook has. (Now, if that Pavillion had a dual core processor of that speed for that price, then I'll make a special trip to Fry's one of these weekends....).

      • He's using 41,000,000/36,000=1138 and change.

        and while many defend it as "wiring the schools and training the teachers, etc". If you bought 36,000 laptops at $650 a pop (thats retail you'd definitely get a better price buying bulk) Its only 23,040,000. thats 18,000,000 in "wiring fees".
        at 300 kids per middle school (rough estimate) thats 120 schools. Setting up wireless access points and 120 servers should not cost 18,000,000.

        Even if HP only knocked the price down $50, thast another 1.8 million. No apple i
        • Forget the wiring. Besides being wireLESS, that was done 4 or more years ago. This batch doesn't have to support nearly as much infrastructure. Already there.

          This is the second 4-year or so deal. Oughta be a steeper discount, especially since Maine is fronting the iBook assembly lines for a while. Alas, this is no bargain in so many ways.

          rick
      • Why do K-12 students need a dual-core processor? I think they can get a perfectly fine education using laptops that have a 1.8 GHz single-core Turion. Next you'll be telling us that the kids won't be able to learn anything unless they have the latest and greatest NVidia video cards.

        And whether it's an iBook or a MacBook, it's overpriced. Aside from the overrated Mac OS, neither has any compelling advantage over the inexpensive HP Pavilion.

        Sure, if you're going to spend your own money, get all sorts o

        • Why do K-12 students need a dual-core processor?

          Why didn't you state that already? I wouldn't have responded if you said something to that effect. You sounded like another one of those "Ohhh, I can get some HP/Dell/EMachines computer less than a Mac that doesn't have comparable stats" trolls, but with that point, you're not one of them.

          Sure, if you're going to spend your own money, get all sorts of fancy stuff. Maybe it's even worthwhile. But when you're spending the taxpayers' money, stick to the es

          • I was only describing the stats of the inexpensive HP laptop to show that it was plenty good enough for education, not to try to claim that it matched the Apple laptop feature-for-feature. What's the point in spending more taxpayer money for features that aren't actually necessary or useful to promote the educational purpose of the machine?
        • And whether it's an iBook or a MacBook, it's overpriced. Aside from the overrated Mac OS, neither has any compelling advantage over the inexpensive HP Pavilion.

          Does HP offer schools anything like the Apple Mobile Learning Labs [apple.com]? No. Factor in the cost of the cart, wireless base station and laser printer. Next factor in the savings on continually reinstalling the operating system image due to kids browsing to "Comet Cursors" or "Kazaa" type sites.

          I use an iMac at home simply because I want to play games o

          • The cost of the cart, access point, and printer should be distributed over the cost of twenty to thirty laptops, so as I've said, it's lost in the noise. HP might not have a ready-made package, but I'm sure they'd be willing to put one together for a large order like that, as would any systems integrator.

            And I've seen plenty of school labs that have routine, automated processes for reinstalling the OS on PCs, so the cost of doing that (if necessary) is minimal. But I'd assume that in elementary and middle
        • What about my post was "flamebait"? Do the moderators really believe that students DO need a dual-core processor? Or that spending 50% more on a laptop improves the educational experience by anywhere near 50%?
    • Forgive me for not RTFMing, but, on top of all other things, $1138 would buy a MacBook, but instead they're using it to unload left over g4 iBooks, according to the article summary. Quite a deal for Apple.
  • by cagle_.25 ( 715952 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @08:58PM (#15709661) Journal
    And in yet another ironic twist, attempting to follow the link to the source of the Reuters story on Wiki results in 403 - Forbidden.


    I guess a good source is impossible to find.

  • civil liberties (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @09:00PM (#15709669) Homepage Journal
    Isn't it strange how while the Chinese people are gaining and exercising new civil liberties despite the government, here in the US we are losing our civil liberties to the government, just about as fast as the Chinese are gaining them.

    I wonder when they'll catch up with us?
    • Re:civil liberties (Score:3, Insightful)

      by windowpain ( 211052 )
      "the Chinese people are gaining and exercising new civil liberties despite the government"

      First of all, it's literally impossible to gain new civil liberties despite the government. By definition, civil liberties are laws that protect the individual from the government. If the government does not pass laws that protect the individual (or it chooses not to abide by such laws) you can try to step out of the way of the jackboot, but that doesn't mean you're exercising new civil liberties.

      Second, what the hell
      • Step 1: do anything that pisses off say, the president
        Step 2: get labeled a "terrorist" or "enemy combatant"
        Step 2b: you just lost all your civil liberties
        Step 3: whatever they want to do to you

        How do we really have any civil liberties (protection from the govt as you describe it) when such laws exist that allow the government to ignore the laws?

        It's very arguable that the actual letter of the law in America is no better than the letter of the law in China - it's just that other circumstances here in the US
      • Come on over and say that. See what happens.

        In actuality all that will happen is that you will be mocked by anyone who cares to understand you.

        Not to say the Chinese government is benevolent or anything, it quite clearly isn't, but to claim legally tried and convicted death penalties are murder is a mighty big slur on, say, Texas and Florida for starters...

        No big government is ever pure. And until America and the UK makes some steps towards putting their own houses in order, well, no-one here would deny you
        • Not to say the Chinese government is benevolent or anything, it quite clearly isn't, but to claim legally tried and convicted death penalties are murder is a mighty big slur on, say, Texas and Florida for starters...

          You can get the death penalty in China for tax evasion as well as over 2000 other offenses most of which aren't rape or murder. The death penalty in China is a whole 'nother kettle of fish from what we have here in the US. I'm not a fan of the death penalty in this country either but even

  • I say again -- beating Chinese censorship is easy in the short term, very hard in the long term, but probably also doable in the long term. But it needs a lot of smart techie brainpower from the outside to beat. http://www.monashreport.com/2006/04/17/how-to-beat -chinese-censorship-operation-peking-duck/ [monashreport.com] is my idea of a good place to start.
  • by Strolls ( 641018 ) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @10:49PM (#15710159)
    This is the most positive news I have ever encountered with respect to Tiscali. My personal experience is with hours of phonecalls to their useless technical support over customers' ADSL connections.

    But in this case, I think Tiscali did only one thing wrong in their letter The British Phonographic Industry Limited [craphound.com].... they should have added "please feel free to phone us to discuss this further"

    I can just imagine the conversation now:

    Tech support: my name is Sanjay, how can I help you?
    <listens>
    Tech support: so these people have been pirating your music? Have you tried reinstalling your modem drivers?
  • If duct tape wasnt already actively being used and seen as invaluable, how could it have been used for emergency repairs on Apollo 13? Did I miss the part where NASA modified a nuclear missile to special deliver the roll?
  • ...These laptops are probally going to some suburb. I wish these kind of things happened where I live, in like Oakland California...Has anyone even fucking SEEN schools in Bay Area innercity? Among the nations worst. Fucking arnold said he cared about education no :(
  • Does anyone else think it's a bad idea to strap your jetpack onto your back with duct tape??
  • Not!

    "First pressed into service during the homemade repairs that saved Apollo 13 from disaster in 1970, the tape has since been at the center of a variety of ingenious quick fixes dreamed up by the space agency's scientists. The latest patch-up will secure British astronaut Piers Sellers to his jet-propelled backpack today for the final spacewalk of the shuttle Discovery's 13-day mission to the International Space Station."

    A perfect example of why the argument "robots are just as good as humans at space exp
    • Re:Robots in space (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StrawberryFrog ( 67065 ) on Thursday July 13, 2006 @05:15AM (#15711288) Homepage Journal
      A perfect example of why the argument "robots are just as good as humans at space exploration" doesn't work. When was the last time a robot came up with an "ingenious quick fix"?

      When was the last time that a fault on a robot/remotely controlled craft cost human lives? Robots are expendable.

      When was the last time that a robot craft had to make the dangerous and expensive return journey to the Earth's surface? Robots have the advantage of not needing to do so unless there is a sample to return.

      When was the last time that a craft with humans on board went to the surface of Mars or among the moons of Saturn? Robots have done both.

      Robots are not "just as good as humans at space exploration" - their proven track record is that they have done so very much more. And that gap will only widen - the standard of robots is improving faster than the standard of human.

    • When was the last time a robot came up with an "ingenious quick fix"?
      Ah, but when was the last time you had to fire a robot for masturbating to animal porn outside a church while smoking crack and taking pot shots at passers-by with an air pistol? Eh?
  • NASA has solved another problem with their favorite repair device, a roll of duct tape.


    Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, it has a dark side, and it binds the universe together.

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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