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Comment Re:Will be cancelling, any competitors? (Score 1) 488

The Amazon streaming service has some advantages over netflix already and netflix just hosed their big advantage - a reasonably priced way to get unavailable content made available: (a) Amazon's web streamer works seamlessly on any PC platform as there is no silverlight requirement; (b) Amazon has the subscription service, but they also offer pay-as-you-view service which is great for someone that only watches a few movies a month or watches sporadically (or like me uses it mainly while traveling); (c) different content available, there have definitely been some things I found on Amazon that I couldn't find on netflix (Sexy Beast the most recent).

Netflix's only remaining advantages: (1) it works on some devices like the Wii; (2) the per-view price on Amazon for tv shows is too high ( $0.99 per episode, $0.10-0.20 is where I think it gets reasonable ); (3) Amazon *may* have quality issues - the streaming player downgrades the video quality based on network quality, the question I don't have an answer for is what netflix would have done in a similar situation.

Certainly my family is going to have a discussion about switching, or canceling Netflix outright and using the Amazon pay-per-view option.

Comment Re:does the PhD matter? (Score 2) 487

No. It is a problem with her advisor and the other mentors she has had at her school. Professors (and senior graduate students) should be teaching students that you are learning many things as part of your Ph.D. training: How to do research on a problem of interest, how to find a problem of interest, how to write a paper backing up your research findings, how to give a presentation of your research findings. These are all important. But they aren't the end.

You also need to be learning: How to explain your research to experts in your subject (department), how to explain your research to others in your discipline (college) [ We called this the "elevator talk" ], how to explain your research to those without a complete background (other graduate students), how to explain your research to students majoring in your department, how to explain your research to john q. public [ We called this the "airplane talk" ]. How to find funding and how to make a report on the results from funding.

Finally, and not every Ph.D. program gets this by a long shot, you need to be getting practice in teaching subjects both in your specialty and adjacent to it to students.

People can be narrow specialists in their research and still accomplish all of these things. I work with many of them, and I went to school with many others.

Comment Mother-of-Invention (Score 1) 316

The Tick is a cartoon, not a comic book, but Mother-of-Invention would have to be my favorite scientist villain. Probably not the best (I think he would even admit that) but using a time-machine (which was already invented) to go back through time to kidnap inventors so that he could then invent their inventions! Genius.

Comment Re:Tenure, promotion (Score 2) 385

Heck I'm even given grief for having co-authors on all my papers, and having multiple co-authors on my major (often cited) papers. I don't even want to imagine what kind of nonsense will be said about me if I try and claim a community edited document as my work-product. To be fair I use Wikipedia often - to the point where I decided to make a monetary contribution, and I have made small edits.

Besides, with places like much scientific work is freely available. I think the arxiv is a much better way to collect cutting edge data -- the only way to "correct" someones error is to submit a polite email to them, or submit your own paper as a counter point, either way there is a "damping" effect allowing both versions of a theory or result to persist at once for others to find and read. Only once the subject has reached the level of "textbook" should wikipedia become an important source for collecting and searching that information.

Comment Re:Quick version of the laptop buying guide: (Score 1) 898

mod parent up! I am first rate clutz. I tend to spill coffee on my laptop on a weekly basis, I forget where I am and leave it unattended on a desk somewhere. Yes I shouldn't do these things. But regardless I do them. I am now 34 and I still do them. So when I get a laptop, first and foremost I consider cost. Frankly netbooks have been a god send for me. I can plunk the cost of a short domestic plane flight, and in two years when I drop a 2 litre bottle of wine on it from 6 feet up (what killed the last one), I can just pick up a new one at the next opportunity. Secondary considerations are the availability of linux drivers for the hardware, I tend to max out the RAM slots in whatever chassis I buy (usually salvaged from my last victim-top), a plethora of card slots, battery life and time, and heat (living in Texas).

Comment Why couldn't passports work like this? (Score 1) 200

My colleague is a bitch to travel with. He has one of the most common names in the US and is hassled entering the country every time, to the point where it usually takes him an extra day to return from abroad because of the flights he misses while being interviewed by immigration. The only explanation he's ever had: "Sir your name is really common". His question which he still hasn't asked: So my name is really common? How common is my passport number?

Just so I can travel with him without having to worry if I'm going to see him again when we get back to the US, I'd like to see an identity document that can be used to uniquely identify a person (who wants to be identified, for example for purposes of travelling abroad). Seems like a passport could/should do the job but what the hell do I know.

Comment K-State has had this in Physics courses (Score 1) 86

I saw this idea in Physics classes at K-state. It uses any device which has a web browser (smart phone, pda, laptop, etc). I think it was called In-class or something like that. It was very bare bones and basic, but also very useful for what they wanted. The research seems to show an improvement in the students that use it. It even had some functionality not mentioned in this patent such as allowing for groups of students to pool their answers and then reevaluate based on what their group had answered.

Comment Re:Confiscations (Score 1) 405

To at least mitigate the effect of missing work for ... well no one knows how long. Every time I've been called I've spent 6 or more hours sitting around doing nothing. Its a bonus to have the laptop with me so at least I can keep some projects on track. No different from jurors that bring knitting, or a teacher who brings grading with them. Yes it crosses the line when one starts breaking the rules of contact with the outside world.

My wife served on a civil trial that took more than a week of her life and ended up being settled before they made a decision. I think the jurors should be permitted to bill the lawyers (and judge) for their time, for an hourly rate not more than twice their normal salary. It wouldn't fix the whole system, but it would help.

Comment UMA Over Wi-Fi Acomplishes the same thing (Score 1) 231

This is (one of) the reason(s) I started getting Wi-Fi capable phones. Plus I only have to have my wireless router configured. Seems like the better solution than a separate antenna system. Of course not every service supports UMA capability - or at least not on every phone that could have it.

Comment Re:The Future is FAR from Secure (Score 1) 303

The US is in the middle of a decades long push to test students into knowledge and schools into, for lack of a better word, success. The result is students who give even less of $hit (where that is possible), teachers who teach how to take tests (and not how to be a creative and intelligent thinker), teachers who are terrified that their job security is determined by unmotivated students, and administrators that care about only one thing (test scores for their school) and how to game the system enough so that they don't lose their job.

The real solution to the problem of schooling, if there ever was a problem, is with parents. It is up to parents to instill in their children a respect for education, a thirst for knowledge, and the beginnings of creativity.

Tests to most students (and adults) feel like punishment. They undermine the educational process (they are necessary when we treat degrees as a certificate of knowledge so we will never be entirely free of them). Using them as a method of motivating students is akin to using beatings to train a dog: you don't get a well trained dog, what you get is a terrified mass of useless dog.

Comment Re:Think beyond the PC. (Score 1) 345

Yup. Because the PC is dying man! It's been dying for THIRTY FUCKING YEARS NOW! You'd think it'd have the good grace to have kicked off long ago and made way for a more compact, less powerful, less configurable, less open, complete cluster-fuck of a platform like smart phones or something. You know, something that can be locked down against their own users. Something you can charge through the nose and out the ass for development tools and support for.

Right. I mean I might spend $100-400 of my money on a phone or laptop type device or two (and another for the wife) and our family will likely own at most one tv-type device and one gaming device for a combined total of at most $800. I buy the devices and I use them for 15 years or until they break whichever comes first. But when I ask my company to plunk down a $3000 chunk of change every 4-5 years for a work machine it will be a pc. I don't see this fact changing in my lifetime. Maybe I'm just not seeing the light...

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