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Journal Journal: Continuation on education 13

Ok, I need to expand a bit on my excessively long post on education some time back.

The first thing I am going to clarify is streaming. This is not merely distinction by speed, which is the normal (and therefore wrong) approach. You have to distinguish by the nature of the flows. In practice, this means distinguishing by creativity (since creative people learn differently than uncreative people).

It is also not sufficient to divide by fast/medium/slow. The idea is that differences in mind create turbulence (a very useful thing to have in contexts other than the classroom). For speed, this is easy - normal +/- 0.25 standard deviations for the central band (ie: everyone essentially average), plus two additional bands on either side, making five in total.

Classes should hold around 10 students, so you have lots of different classes for average, fewer for the band's either side, and perhaps only one for the outer bands. This solves a lot of timetabling issues, as classes in the same band are going to be interchangeable as far as subject matter is concerned. (This means you can weave in and out of the creative streams as needed.)

Creativity can be ranked, but not quantified. I'd simply create three pools of students, with the most creative in one pool and the least in a second. It's about the best you can do. The size of the pools? Well, you can't obtain zero gradient, and variations in thinking style can be very useful in the classroom. 50% in the middle group, 25% in each of the outliers.

So you've 15 different streams in total. Assume creativity and speed are normally distributed and that the outermost speed streams contain one class of 10 each. Start with speed for simplicity I'll forgo the calculations and guess that the upper/lower middle bands would then have nine classes of 10 each and that the central band will hold 180 classes of 10.

That means you've 2000 students, of whom the assumption is 1000 are averagely creative, 500 are exceptional and 500 are, well, not really. Ok, because creativity and speed are independent variables, we have to have more classes in the outermost band - in fact, we'd need four of them, which means we have to go to 8000 students.

These students get placed in one of 808 possible classes per subject per year. Yes, 808 distinct classes. Assuming 6 teaching hours per day x 5 days, making 30 available hours, which means you can have no fewer than 27 simultaneous classes per year. That's 513 classrooms in total, fully occupied in every timeslot, and we're looking at just one subject. Assuming 8 subjects per year on average, that goes up to 4104. Rooms need maintenance and you also need spares in case of problems. So, triple it, giving 12312 rooms required. We're now looking at serious real estate, but there are larger schools than that today. This isn't impossible.

The 8000 students is per year, as noted earlier. And since years won't align, you're going to need to go from first year of pre/playschool to final year of an undergraduate degree. That's a whole lotta years. 19 of them, including industrial placement. 152,000 students in total. About a quarter of the total student population in the Greater Manchester area.

The design would be a nightmare with a layout from hell to minimize conflict due to intellectual peers not always being age peers, and neither necessarily being perceptual peers, and yet the layout also has to minimize the distance walked. Due to the lack of wormholes and non-simply-connected topologies, this isn't trivial. A person at one extreme corner of the two dimensional spectrum in one subject might be at the other extreme corner in another. From each class, there will be 15 vectors to the next one.

But you can't minimize per journey. Because there will be multiple interchangeable classes, each of which will produce 15 further vectors, you have to minimize per day, per student. Certain changes impact other vectors, certain vector values will be impossible, and so on. Multivariable systems with permutation constraints. That is hellish optimization, but it is possible.

It might actually be necessary to make the university a full research/teaching university of the sort found a lot in England. There is no possible way such a school could finance itself off fees, but research/development, publishing and other long-term income might help. Ideally, the productivity would pay for the school. The bigger multinationals post profits in excess of 2 billion a year, which is how much this school would cost.

Pumping all the profits into a school in the hope that the 10 uber creative geniuses you produce each year, every year, can produce enough new products and enough new patents to guarantee the system can be sustained... It would be a huge gamble, it would probably fail, but what a wild ride it would be!

User Journal

Journal Journal: From the archives: or, LOL John Dvorak 3


This article made me laugh 6 years ago, and just shows why nobody who knows anything takes John Dvorak seriously, with the possible exception of sticking an inverter gate in front of his output first. Granted, I'm keeping him in business by linking to him because he makes his living as a professional troll: say outrageously stupid things and get the money from ad impressions.

The Gphone is DOOMED!

User Journal

Journal Journal: DeviantArt thinks this is spam 2

[Just saving this here in case I need to point to it. Long story short - never try. Someone posted a question. I wrote an answer. Then wasted five minutes signing up because DA pretends you can comment when you don't have an account then hits you with the sign in barrier. So you sign up, enter lots of crap, open Yahoo mail to retreive the confirmation email, confirm, then you're landed me on an unrelated page. So I had to back out until I found the comment form in my history. Fortunately the comment was still there. Then I resubmitted it. "DeviantArt can't post this message because we think it is spam." Uh, what? So I cut the comment, reloaded the page - in case there were expired magic tokens or some other never-works-in-practice anti-spam crap, repasted, and got the same message.

So.... then I said "Screw it", and tried to cancel the account. Which it refused to do, because it had forgotten my password. I knew my password, but no, DeviantArt thought I didn't. (OK, perhaps I made a typo when setting it up, but just curious DA assholes: you prompted me twice for my email address, which I can read, and which you're going to send me a confirmation email to anyway, but only once for the password which I can't read because each letter's replaced by a black circle. Does this make sense to you? No? Me neither.)

But, of course, DeviantArt didn't need my password anyway, it jsut insisted on it. You see (1) I'm already logged in and (2) DA's going to send a confirmation email to that email address I had to enter twice. But, fuck, OK, send me my password reset thingie. What's that? You can't? Not until I log out? Oh. My. Fucking God.

Last action on my part while still logged in is to send a nastygram to the person who wanted help. OK, it was polite actually, but I was seething.I actually signed up to DeviantArt to show you. Unfortunately DA says my comment is "spam". There are no links, it's just a list of instructions. To add insult to injury I can't now cancel the account as it reports the password - the one I set five minutes ago - is incorrect.

So, anywho, log out, remind password, open Yahoo mail, click on link, reset password, log in, close account, yes I'm sure, re-enter password, open Yahoo mail, click on link, YES, I already said YES SEVERAL SODDING TIMES you DICK. Why? You're asking me WHY? You call me a fucking spammer because I try to help someone? Reason entered. Yes. OK. Closed.

No good deed goes unpunished.]

It's not pretty, but I found you can get by by using unity-2d-panel.

1. Make sure you have Cinnamon set up to only show a bottom panel.
2. Open a terminal and run "gnome-session-properties"
3. Click "Add", and in the dialog box that comes up enter "unity-2d-panels" in both the Name and Command field. Save and close.
4. Restart your Cinnamon session.

This, obviously, only works if you're running Ubuntu. It may not work in very recent Ubuntus - I recall reading somewhere Unity 2D is not supported in more recent versions (I'm running 12.04) - if in doubt, before doing any of this type "which unity-2d-panel" at the command line and see if it can find that application or gives you an error message.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Horse, Hunter, and Stag

The Horse, Hunter, and Stag
An Aesop's Fable

A quarrel had arisen between the Horse and the Stag, so the Horse came to a Hunter to ask his help to take revenge on the Stag. The Hunter agreed, but said: "If you desire to conquer the Stag, you must permit me to place this piece of iron between your jaws, so that I may guide you with these reins, and allow this saddle to be placed upon your back so that I may keep steady upon you as we follow after the enemy." The Horse agreed to the conditions, and the Hunter soon saddled and bridled him. Then with the aid of the Hunter the Horse soon overcame the Stag, and said to the Hunter: "Now, get off, and remove those things from my mouth and back."

"Not so fast, friend," said the Hunter. "I have now got you under bit and spur, and prefer to keep you as you are at present."

User Journal

Journal Journal: Well, that about wraps it up for e-trade. 2

E-mail to Neal Martin, E-trade's vice president of customer service:

Well Neal,

I doubt that this message will actually get to you personally, but what the hell.

After the fracas over the last few weeks in which e-trade failed to issue me a second ATM card, I finally got around to transferring the bulk of my shares to a competent broker.

The automatic mail from e-trade notifying me of the transfer included this paragraph:

E*TRADE strives to achieve best in class service and is focused on meeting all of your financial needs. We would like to understand your reason for your transfer out and see if there are any improvements we can make to serve you better in the future. If you have the time to discuss, please call us at 1-800-ETRADE -1 (1-800-387-2331).

The fact is, after going around with your underlings a few times on my requirement for a second card, and having told each of them several times that this was a deal breaker, I know that the claim that youâ(TM)re âoestriving to achieve best in class serviceâ is nothing but marketing drivel. Indeed, my direct, personal experience has shown me that my business isnâ(TM)t important enough to get on the radar of anyone who would actually solve the problem.

I had already planned to find another broker, but the thing that made me hurry up and do so was receiving your oh-so-thoughtful gift of an e-trade gym bag. So, after refusing my very simple request, you apparently assumed that Iâ(TM)d be satisfied if I just got a bag to advertise an incompetent financial institution to my friends.

Looking at the transaction log, I see that e-trade has charged me $25 for the privilege of taking my property elsewhere. Now, Iâ(TM)m sure you have something in your fine print that allows you to do that, but itâ(TM)s still kind of shitty on your part. Given that youâ(TM)re not even capable of issuing two cards on one account (as you had done for the previous decade or so), waiving that fee is probably entirely beyond the capabilities of the fifth-rate keyboard monkeys in your so-called âoeIT departmentâ, so you can go ahead and keep it. Iâ(TM)m getting a nice welcome gift from your competition, which I didnâ(TM)t even ask for.

Would you like the gym bag back?


User Journal

Journal Journal: A scathing pun that Microsoft wouldn't like 4

I unintentionally used this pun over the weekend discussing Microsoft with my wife.

Given Microsoft's success rate with Surface, Windows Phone, Zune, and the negative publicity the next Xbox has received, it seems the best way to hurt Microsoft is to leave them to their own devices.

User Journal

Journal Journal: A Future Without Email 2

As perhaps the least secure system in common use today, I've been wondering for about a decade what would replace email. I don't like it, I use it only for automated forms, and I generally think it needs to be superseded. All the efforts to extend or somehow "fix" the system end up optional and thus mostly useless, between the insecure infrastructure making spam extremely easy to send and the lack of compulsory encryption (which would have the advantage of ensuring its support by default in clients/interfaces). It seems like the only way to fix it is a fully incompatible replacement, with the unfortunate likelihood that some form of bridging would end up existing even then, opening up any new system to the problems of the old.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Even less impressed with E-Trade. 3

Got this from some minion at E-trade, since the VP I wrote to was apparently too busy to answer a customer personally:

Good Morning Mr. Randolph,

We received your email inquiry to our VP of Customer Service, Neal Martin on 8/5/13. We regret that we are unable to accommodate your request for two ATM cards for your account. We appreciate your feedback and it has been shared with management and our product teams for review. If you have any additional questions or concerns feel free to contact me at [phone number deleted]

Thank You,

[Name redacted]
Corporate Support Manager
Alpharetta GA
E*TRADE Securities LLC
[phone number redacted]

Manager? Yeah, right. In a functioning company, a manager is someone who takes the initiative to solve a problem.

I left the VP's name because he fully deserves to have this come up when someone googles him in the future.

My response:


You might mention to Neal Martin that when a customer responds to an email message that has his name on it, itâ(TM)s rather poor form to pass the buck to someone else unless that other person is capable of solving the problem.

I was a more-or-less satisfied customer of E-trade for over a decade. I will be transferring my assets to another broker in the near future, as soon as I determine which of your competitors can demonstrate the competence that E-trade has abandoned.


User Journal

Journal Journal: Rather unimpressed with E-Trade today.

I've been a customer of theirs for over a decade, and I've had two ATM cards for the same account for many years. Recently, I needed to cancel one of the cards and instead of just replacing that card, they cancelled both of my cards. I just sent the following message to Neal Martin, VP of customer service at E-trade.


I got a call from one of your employees this morning, Meagan something, who told me that after looking into it she wasnâ(TM)t able to find a way to issue a second card for my account. Her suggested workaround was that I should open another account, and get an ATM card for that account.

So, because of your IT departmentâ(TM)s refusal to fulfill a very simple request, E-tradeâ(TM)s âoesolutionâ is that I should give you MORE of my business, and incur whatever additional costs are associated with having a second account. Not to mention that using a second account means that if I lose a card while traveling, Iâ(TM)ll either be dead in the water for a day while funds get transferred to that second account, or Iâ(TM)d have to have money parked in that second account already.

Now, Iâ(TM)m a software engineer myself with a fair bit of experience in financial systems. In my Wall Street days, I worked at JP Morgan, Salomon Brothers, and UBS/Warburg. I know that there is indeed a way to solve the problem at hand, even if it requires manually editing a database to make it happen. If my business is important enough to you, youâ(TM)ll direct your IT department to do so.

In the meantime, I suggest your inform all of your employees in customer-facing roles that âoesecurity policy" is not an excuse for incompetence.


The message above was a follow-up to this one:

Hello Neal,

I have been an E-Trade customer since 2002 or thereabouts, and I currently have about [redacted] in assets on deposit with e-trade.

Iâ(TM)ve got to say, Iâ(TM)m on the verge of taking my business elsewhere and itâ(TM)s because of something that should be trivial for you to solve.

Iâ(TM)ve had two debit cards for my account for a decade or more, and Iâ(TM)ve just been told that I can only have one now. This doesnâ(TM)t work for me, because I travel quite a bit, and I like to keep one card in the safe in my hotel room, and have the other one on me. If I lose a card while traveling, I do not want to be stranded without a way to access my funds.

Yesterday, I spoke with a representative who told me that he had figured it out and was sending me an additional card, but this morning he called me back and told me that he couldnâ(TM)t do it after all. Just now, I spoke with another representative from your âoeCorporate Relationship Managementâ team, and heâ(TM)s looking into it.

Iâ(TM)ve generally been happy with E-trade up to this point, but if you canâ(TM)t issue me two cards as before, itâ(TM)s a deal breaker. I hope you get this figured out.

Also, donâ(TM)t put your name on an e-mail address that doesnâ(TM)t go to you directly. Itâ(TM)s insulting.


The upshot is I did some shopping around and found that Scottrade's fees are lower than E-trade's. The first brokerage company I find that can issue two cards on one account will get my business.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Another interesting stint at Apple. 5

For the last two years (almost), I was back at Apple working on the UI frameworks that the ProApps and the iApps use to give them their distinctive look. Interesting work, nice people to work with, and now I can say that there's some of my code in most of Apple's Pro and consumer apps on the Mac.

To everyone in PhotoApps, ProApps, Frameworks, and Dev Tools, thanks much! I enjoyed working with you.


User Journal

Journal Journal: New job 8

Coming up on a month into a new job. One of the worst things about it? My predecessor's documentation consisted of a few outdated spreadsheets hidden in a directory on one of the servers, a list of passwords, a couple folders with license keys, and a file cabinet filled with printouts of howto documents from the Internet with no clue what he used them for (including countless ones for functions and features I have discovered we do not use, as well as software we do not use.)

One recent fun discovery? He assigned an unknown number of undocumented and unreserved IPs within our DHCP block to desktops, with no clues as to specifically why. I discovered this when I installed a virtual machine to test with and clobbered my boss's (the owner's) static IP. He was gone for almost a month before I came on. So far, the static IPs seem related to our copier's scan function, but I can't guarantee that is the only reason, and I see no reason to meddle with the systems that are working. DHCP reservations, here we come!

Now to see if I can get the desktop hubs replaced with switches...

User Journal

Journal Journal: nosupportlinuxhosting fail

I decided to try out nosupportlinuxhosting but they appear to have suspended hyperlogos.org without notice or explanation. I sure hope I don't have to issue a chargeback, that would be stupid. I'm already waiting for Amazon to process two returns that have been sitting around at their facilities for weeks.

User Journal

Journal Journal: This website has gone to shit 1

I'm not talking about the content, that has always been shit
I'm talking about what happens when I try to modify my relationships.


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