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Comment A ramble from the TAs view (Score 4, Interesting) 684

I used to head TF CS classes at an Ivy League school (you can probably guess which one from my job title alone). I worked both in session with undergraduates, and in the summer for the high-school/further learning program.

Cheating in CS is terribly easy to detect. We had programs we could use to pick up anything suspect, but I never actually used them - at the entry-level I was teaching at, it was pretty easy to catch someone out. In fact, often you can complete the assignment in the time it would take you to modify your stolen/plagiarized code so as to be undetectable. Half the time you just need to google the code they submitted before you find a forum/Yahoo Answers post from the student in question, and once you've been coding a student for a while you get a good feel for what exactly is and isn't their style and their code.

As to preventing it: there was a very simple policy at my university. You cheat, you fail. In most cases, it was rarely followed. We tended to be far more strict at the Summer School sessions, but then again, we also tended to get considerably more problems, mainly because the high school students and foreign exchange students attending didn't know better. The university also didn't really have a problem showing them the door.

Undergraduates were more of an issue. A lot of the time, we would let them know we'd discovered it, and let it slide. Repeat offenders were usually dealt with by using some kind of grade penalty. Very rarely did students get referred for academic discipline (although this is partly due to the entry-level nature of the courses I taught. Something high-level, or with a substantial amount of original research required, would be another story).

Finally, and perhaps most importantly - why were these students cheating? Well, honestly, I suspect because of the academic pressures placed upon them. I'd be extremely interested to compare the rates of detected cheating at somewhere like MIT, where grades are rounded up/down for GPA (ie, get a B+ and it's recorded as a B in your GPA, get an A- and it becomes an A) and at my university. Given the vast number of emails I used to get at the end of each semester from students desperate for a grade boost to help their GPA, I can see how some might have convinced themselves it was 'ok' to cheat. And maybe....just maybe...people are cheating because they're not getting the support they need. The article says the guy was taking the class for the second time. Sounds like maybe he wasn't getting the one-on-one help and extra support teaching staff should be giving him. Just a thought.

Comment Re:Bootcamp a gimmick (Score 1) 279

For many companies it's way more than a gimmick - I work for a large university that *exclusively* provides Apple hardware for end-user computing. All staff and students use iMacs or MacBook Pros for day to day use. The hardware is solid, and the lifespan of a mac machine tends to be a couple of years beyond that of a PC. Around half of those users choose to keep OS X on their personal machines we provide, and the others use Windows. So Boot Camp for us is really a big, big plus. If Apple didn't provide Boot Camp, they'd lose a lot of custom from institutions like ours.

Comment From the other side... (Score 1) 467's clear that the person blogging this has only really experienced things on one side of the fence. I used to Head TA some large intro CS classes for an Ivy school, and currently work in Instructional Technology. I think her complaints are valid, but don't really have a lot to do with PowerPoint - it's just a fact of life that some professors are bad lecturers. Using PowerPoint as a lecture tool can go pretty badly - but guess what, so can using a chalkboard! I've read a lot of student evaluations in my time, and for every student complaining that the class used too many slides, there's one who's upset we didn't have enough. Some students don't want to take notes, others do. This is part of the challenge of teaching - to find an even ground where every student is satisfied with the lecture style. For example, she says "what helps me most is doing problems step by step as a class". However, I've seen some students who *hate* this approach - so what about them? Do we just forget about them? Ignore them? I personally don't take notes very well, so I like having handouts to supplement lectures. Does this make me a bad student? Honestly, the blog post isn't all that different from some of the student evaluations I read for classes - one student's opinion about what his or her perfect class is. Unfortunately, other students might feel differently. A good professor can be engaging *regardless* of how they present. If you only lecture well with PowerPoint and the projector in your lecture hall breaks, what do you do? The student here is missing the much bigger picture, which is that bad teaching is just bad teaching - whether it be slides, chalk, or overheads.

Comment Um....tape??? (Score 4, Informative) 266

The fact that you haven't thought of tape makes me question how well you know the industry you're in, or how well-connected you actually are. Why can't you put your video files onto DigiBeta or similar? Tape stores well, and with a format like DigiBeta you're pretty much guaranteed compatability for at least 50 years+ (since there's so much TV back catalogue stored on tape, and there will always be a need by broadcasters to get to that content). I don't want to come off as rude, but it just sound like you don't really know much about video production and archival, despite the fact you've chosen to produce video installations and artwork. You're not the first person in the world to do this kind of thing - there are established proceedures for dealing with and archiving video installation work. This still doesn't entirely solve your problem of storing your raw data, but since you specifically talk about .mov files I'm perplexed that you haven't already thought of tape. I suspect you're going to get a lot of answers here that are wildly impractical for a gallery or go well beyond your means - but the fact is this: if a museum or gallery is looking to purchase your work, they should already have a curator who knows the medium. If they don't have a curator who can discuss with you the formats he/she would like the work in, the gallery probably needs to rethink what it's doing in the business!
The Media

Submission + - Murdoch Criticizes BBC for Providing 'Free News' 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "News Corporation's James Murdoch says that a "dominant" BBC threatens independent journalism in the UK and that free news on the web provided by the BBC made it "incredibly difficult" for private news organizations to ask people to pay for their news. "It is essential for the future of independent digital journalism that a fair price can be charged for news to people who value it," says Murdoch. "The expansion of state-sponsored journalism is a threat to the plurality and independence of news provision." In common with the public broadcasting organizations of many other European countries, the BBC is funded by a television license fee charged to all households owning a television capable of receiving broadcasts. Murdoch's News Corporation, one of the world's largest media conglomerates, owns the Times, the Sunday Times and Sun newspapers and pay TV provider BSkyB in the UK and the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and Fox News TV in the US. Former BBC director general Greg Dyke responded that Murdoch's argument that the BBC was a "threat" to independent journalism was fundamentally wrong. "Journalism is going through a very difficult time — not only in this country but every country in the world — because newspapers, radio and television in the commercial world are all having a very rough time," says Dyke. "That is nothing to do with the BBC, that is just... what's happening.""

Submission + - How to Make an Open Source Project Press-Friendly (

blackbearnh writes: "Corporations know that part of launching a successful project is projecting the right image to the media. But a lot of open source projects seem to treat the press as an annoyance, if they think about it at all. For a reporter, even finding someone on a project who's willing to talk about it can be a challenge. Esther Schindler over at IT World has a summary of a roundtable discussion that was held at OSCON with pointers about how open source projects can be more reporter-accessible. 'Recognize that we are on deadline, which for most news journalists means posting the article within a couple of hours and for feature authors within a couple of days. If we ask for input, or a quote, or anything to which your project spokesperson (you do have one? yes? please say yes) might want to respond, it generally does mean, "Drop everything and answer us now." If the journalist doesn't give you a deadline ("I need to know by 2pm"), it's okay to ask how long you can take to reach the right developer in Poland, but err on the side of "emergency response." It's unreasonable, I know, but so are our deadlines.'"

Submission + - FCC investigates wireless carrier competition

jriding writes: The FCC is taking a hard look at mobile providers and their business practices, suggesting the agency could take a more hands-on approach with the U.S. market's four major carriers: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint. Earlier this year, the commission was asked to look into matters involving Skype and the iPhone, and the availability of Apple's phone in smaller, more rural markets. However, the FCC has not yet mandated any industry changes, nor has it suggested any regulation is guaranteed.

Submission + - Court rejects FCC Cable Subscriber Cap (

olsmeister writes: The U.S. Court of Appeals Friday threw out the FCC's cap on the number of cable subscribers one operator can serve, saying the FCC was "derelict" in not giving DBS its due as a legitimate competitor.

"We agree with Comcast that the 30% subscriber limit is arbitrary and capricious. We therefore grant the petition and vacate the Rule," said the court, which concluded that there was ample evidence of an increasingly competitive communications marketplace and that cable did not have undue control on the programming pipeline.

The FCC commisioner's statement can be read here

Comment Re:A better idea. (Score 4, Insightful) 57

I know you're trolling, but I'll reply quickly anyway - Google make no promises about what kind of hardware you're going to get with an Android phone, making it impossible to develop these kind of games. There's no guarantee you'll have a touchscreen, a keyboard, hardware buttons, etc. There are also no promises about the CPU/GPU you'll have available, making it even harder. Just read the docs for both platforms and you'll soon see that iPhone OS allows for a great deal more, mainly because you can make certain assumptions about the hardware. Writing a game for Android is like writing a game for the PC, you don't know how much RAM you have, or what your CPU, your GPU, or your input devices are. Writing a game for iPhone is like writing for a console - you know exactly what's on the other end, so you can optimise your code to the nth degree.

Comment Re:Mmm, pixelly resolution goodness... (Score 3, Interesting) 197

Actually, the SDK is quite specific that you *shouldn't* hardcode screen resolutions, and provides methods to call to get the current dimensions of the screen. Obviously more advanced programs will need a rewrite - particularly games and other graphic intensive apps - but many more mundane applications already scale between two resolutions (horizontal and vertical positioning).

Comment Bad submission (Score 1) 1

Aside from the piece of crap that is this submission (watchman? really?).... This isn't really a chance to bash off one over copyright law, because the heart of this case is really about film options and rights. These contracts are *extremely* complicated, particularly when the studio that's optioning the work decides (as in the case of Fox) not to make it. In fact, this really isn't about copyright law at all - more contractual law. Options contracts allow studios to buy options on material that they may or may not produce. This is fairly standard practice, since promising books may turn out to be impossible to film, etc. The studio is basically buying the right to potentially make and distribute a motion picture at some future date. The studio then invests money in development, which doesn't always pan out. If development is successful, further contracts are signed and money paid to the author/rights holder to allow production. However, if the studio decides not the make the film there needs to be a get out clause for the original rights holder to take it to other studios and avenues. Thus, most options contracts have an expiry date - if you haven't produced the film by a certain point, the option reverts back. Of course, the studio can also choose to extend their option, or add a myriad of clauses to hold options over. What Fox are claiming (and what the judge agrees on) is that some part of their option never expired or wasn't bought out, meaning they still have an interest in this picture. This would really not, given precedent in entertainment law, be totally out of the question. It could well be that Fox genuinely still has some contractual interest as a result of previous rights options signed away that were never presented to Warners (the rights holder believing Fox to have given their options up). We shouldn't forget that Fox did spend a fair bit of money development their Watchmen project, and I could certainly understand them wanting to recoup that if it turns out they still have an interest in the picture. Whilst the case was arguing over who owned copyright and distribution rights it would have been decided on *contractual* law...who signed what. (IANAL, but I am involved in the entertainment industry and these types of contracts).

Comment Re:News from OGG Theora, too! (Score 1) 127

However there is no easy way to measure "distortion" of the encoded image that matches the human visual system all that well. (unlike audio)..

I'm not sure I agree with that...and I think the fact that there are people who *can* tell the difference between a 256kbs MP3 and CD-audio and those who *can't* perhaps shows that there's no easy way to map quality of audio onto something that matches human perception. There are plenty of technical ways however, both for audio and visual. I'm not sure where you're getting this from.

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