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Government

Texas Approves Conservative Curriculum 999

Macharius writes "Today, the Texas Board of Education approved 11-4 a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the role of Christianity in American history and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light. The article goes on to mention that Texas's textbook approvals carry less influence than they used to due to digital localization technology, but is that even measurable given how many millions of these textbooks will still be used across the country?"

Comment Re:The chart is mis-labeled (Score 2, Insightful) 295

I can do a lot of things with Office 2010 than I couldn't do with Office 2000. Search folders, RSS, Galleries, better task management, better calendar sharing, better utilization of 64-bit machines....

Windows 7 has some nice advantages as well - it's faster, has better 64-bit support, some nice improvements to the UI (such as pinning items to the taskbar), is more secure...

Are either of them "must upgrades for everybody"? No. Some people will do just fine staying on Windows XP and Office 2000. But a lot of people, especially folks who are power users, will find a lot to like in the new versions.

Comment Re:Function Point Analysis and Man Hours (Score 1) 483

I'd moderate this retarded if I could, but it's not an option. Probably Palin had it removed. Anyway, allow me to explain.

Not sure if I'm being clear here, but a "standard change" is not an estimate - it's something we've done before and know exactly how long it takes. If you are doing any actual estimating, the more "estimating" you do vs. using historical data, the more range of error you'll have. I'll babble on this subject for a while, but that's the gist of this post.

There are different types of changes. If you're estimating something you've done a hundred times, you know exactly how long it will take. Something like custom configuration for a client, routine maintenance, things like that. You'll be correct on how long it takes.

If a customer wants a new web service, and you've never done a web service, you're going to be wrong no matter how much you quantify. You can determine how many objects you need to create/update, but you can't tell how long it will take.

In other words, estimating has to take into account many different things:

How many objects will be updated/added
How many of those will be trivial vs. complex changes
Level of familiarity of the person/people implementing it
Assumption that the number of objects is correct, and nothing was missed
Necessary documentation available *and correct*
Historical accuracy of estimating (are you getting better at estimating overall?)
Historical accuracy of estimating the kind of change requested (are you getting better at estimating *this*?)
Overhead of gates/reviews and change control or other process
Testing resource availability, familiarity with the new items, correct documentation supplied to whomever is testing

If MSDN or man page isn't correct, you're going to do a lot of debugging. If the client's web service you're connecting to doesn't match what you were given, you're doing rewrites once you hit testing. If your change is ready to go but a company-wide routing change is scheduled for the same date so you can't test your implementation, you're stuck. If the CSS works until someone enters a long comment, and you need to find a workaround to the layout, you're better off just saying won't fix.

Bottom line, the more foreign something is, the more incorrect you will be. If you are estimating something you've already done, there's not need to estimate - it's already done! So by definition, we are either dealing with something simple like search/replace and run, or something foreign where you're going to be wrong no matter what.

I'll close with - in a modern company, all code should be reusable. So you only do things once. So you can't learn to estimate more accurately, since you're always estimating something different. The only way to have accurate estimating is to have a solid team working together for a while, and doing similar work. Just limit yourself to things you know, and you'll be right.

Comment Re:EU/FCC wont do a thing (Score 1) 292

You would license [GSM and UMTS patents] like everyone else.

Since my last post, I realized that GSM and UMTS patents aren't the only patents affecting mobile phones. Multitouch gesture patents are another, and the licensing structures for these don't seem to be as reasonable and nondiscriminatory as the licensing structures for, say, GSM and UMTS patent pools.

Huh? What does this have to do with making a phone?

Slashdot and Apple are based in the United States. In the United States, the three national carriers with decent coverage are Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T.[1] These carriers do not give a discount if you use a SIM-only (AT&T) or CSIM-only (VZW/Sprint) plan with your own handset instead of taking the carrier's subsidized handset. So in order to make your handset affordable to customers in the United States, you have to get your handset onto one of the United States carriers' subsidy plans. Nokia has had trouble doing this, leaving Apple and Google as the primary handset operating system publishers.

[1] T-Mobile is a national carrier that does offer a discount for bringing your own handset, but I'm leaving T-Mobile out of it because "there's a map for that" to an even greater extent than with AT&T.

Comment Re:Well, Opera Mini isn't strictly a browser... (Score 3, Insightful) 292

You are running a software built by said commercial 3rd-party company. They don't need that server in the middle to see all of those things.

So there's no increase in capability if they are malicious. There is an increase in risk if they are incompetent - and do something like cache requests/responses containing that data.

Comment Paper Books Won't Die (Score 1) 538

They just might get marginalized a bit. Lots of people still prefer paper, paper books still look better on the bookshelf or coffee table, lots of people would rather read a paper book at the beach or poolside. There will always be a market for paper books - it just may shrink a bit as cost-conscious consumers sometimes choose the eBook option.

Frankly some of my friends who buy eBooks will ALSO buy the print edition of books they really like. And some will get the free sample chapter on their Kindle then go out and buy the paper version if they like it. Even better for publishers.

Comment Re:The information market was like the housing mar (Score 4, Insightful) 538

Except the reality is that only a very few actually make an "obscene profit". The vast majority of books, films and music wither and die with very little revenue. For every Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling there are a thousand other writers who will never make even a part-time wage for their works.

Book publishing is an expensive business and e-books level the playing field considerably. The three biggest costs in book production are (not necessarily in this order):

1. Printing
2. Marketing
3. Distribution

A publisher needs to have confidence that a book will sell X copies at Y price in order to know that they will at least break even on publishing it. And I guarantee you that every publisher has a warehouse full of books they guessed wrong on and nobody bought. But those costs are sunk. They pay get pennies on the dollar at the paper recycler but otherwise they've blown a lot of cash printing books they never sold.

As on-demand, and now e-book, publishing has become more and more viable the break-even point has come WAY down and books that would never have seen the light of day are getting their chance.

And publishers should LOVE eBooks - it takes printing and distribution largely out of the equation and means far greater profits off a much lower price. I wouldn't mind if my publisher did Kindle versions of my books, that's just one more medium and a much higher net profit from the books.

Comment Re:At some level this is may be a good thing (Score 1) 319

Competition is a good thing, no doubt about it. I'm a solid Firefox user but I'm happy to see Chrome or even Opera (or even IE for that matter) make significant advances in browser technology because I want to see that push Mozilla to further improve Firefox too.

I think having browser diversity helps to keep web designers honest as well - hopefully gone (or at least numbered) are the days when sites would only work with one particular browser. I'm pleased to see that I rarely have to use IE Tab anymore in Firefox as a lot of sites that used to be IE-only are now starting to work in Firefox as well.

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