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Comment Re:Why go to community college? (Score 1) 425

I second the parent. I did go to community college at 15 when high school didn't offer the opportunities I wanted, and there were basically 3 groups of people there:
-Underachievers, who couldn't get into a 4 year school, and their parents didn't know what to do with them.
-Underprivileged, who are working hard to be there and take it seriously, and might be anywhere from 18-50 years old.
-Underaged, who are bright but not ready to move away.

Honestly, I preferred my CC days to my undergrad days. At undergrad, the underprivileged aren't there (by definition), but the underachievers still are; they just have more resources to waste from the same parents that put them in SAT prep classes. This results in a much lower signal-to-noise ratio, and a much worse environment (at least for the first year or two of undergrad).

And on that note, I think that the overachievers at 15-17 should be sent to CC, where they will move faster (and more flexibly) than in high school, without the responsibility and risks of undergrad.

Other commenters below are saying that these students should be sent immediately to a "real" school for the proper "environment". Let me ask you: unless you went to a place with a culture like MIT (not my alum), were your first 2 years of undergrad really a good academic environment? I had many more negative environmental influences on my studies at my undergrad institution than my CC, and I've yet to have a friend report differently (including at Ivy League and tech schools).


New Zealand Reintroduces 3 Strikes Law 165

An anonymous reader writes "The New Zealand government has reintroduced a newly rewritten addition to the Copyright Act which will allow rights' holders to send copyright notices to ISPs, and force them to pass them on to account holders. Section 92A of the Copyright Act will allow rights holders to take people who have been identified as infringers more than three times in front of a Copyright Tribunal. This law will allow the Copyright Tribunal to hand down either a $15,000 fine or six months internet disconnection. The law specifies that the account holder himself is responsible for what is downloaded via the account, and doesn't make allowances for identifying the actual copyright infringer if there are multiple computers tied to an account."

Comment Re:Of course, I didn't RTFA (Score 4, Insightful) 234

The ability to track a person across different characters/games is a serious problem Blizz is going to have to look at. A lot of people have non-guild alts so they can play the game in a non-social way when they want (to escape guild infighting, to unwind after a stressful day at work, to avoid stalker-ish people). Take that out, and the game loses value.

Remember, as penny arcade put it:

Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad

Without anonymity, responsibility exists, and a game where you have to act responsibly all the time is far less fun (it's real life by a different set of rules). Sometimes we just want to be fuckwads.

Comment Re:If you need it, you'll know it (Score 1) 705

I agree with your premise, but add another and a different conclusion:

The reason we needed touch-typing years ago was because few people had computers or type-writers to learn on. The reason that we don't need it today is that almost EVERYONE has (or has access to) one to learn on, and usually does learn it in the course of normal development these days. It'd be akin to teaching a "how to type on a cellphone class" to today's youth.

That said, there is a substantial class of students who NEED this class: the poor. A lot of extreme-rural and inner city children do NOT have easy access to computers, except at school. Touch-typing classes for them is the kind of basic education they need to keep up with suburban peers in our tech-heavy society.

This brings up the crux of the problem: most states require schools to teach the state curriculum, crowding out the local interests, so that either EVERY school has this class, or none do. This is the basic choice of whether to provide unnecessary classes to many or not provide essential classes to a few. In that case, I say make it mandatory, and the kids who already know how to type will ignore it as with any class.

(The "it guarantees education for those without private access" is the same argument for sex ed, law/civics, and state-run education in general.)

Comment Re:Pavement (Score 1) 712

Concrete is used in the colder areas of the U.S. exactly because it reflects more heat: heat absorption = size change = stress and cracking. The colder the climate, the greater the heat differential, the greater the cracking. Asphalt roads in cold climates go through much wider thermal variation and degrade faster.

But aslphalt is cheaper and easier to work with, so it's preferred where it can be used (in the warmer climates). Other fun facts of asphalt because it is based on tar:
- it never becomes truly solid (like burnt sugar)
- it's price varies with oil, with lag time
- it can be recycled in place (google "cold mill recycling"), though some emulsifier (basically tar) must be re-added.

And yes, IWAAI (I Was An Ashpalt Inspector).

Tangential: I wonder whether solar panels or white paint do more for averting global warming. Solar panels trap more energy, but reduce coal burning (reducing other heat release and CO2 heat capture).

Comment Re:Lies, damn lies. (Score 1) 780

I see this as great potential for an enterprising grad student (probably a CS student that has used and/or contributed to AVSim) to step in and prove the utility of social backups. I assume that ALL the developers weren't doing ALL their processing on the servers mainframe-style, so there should local copies on developers' computers. Not every developer will have every file, but probably every file (at least every file worth restoring) will be backed up by some developer. And I bet the server documents and scripts are backed up by the maintainer. A quick post asking developers to send in copies of files, along with some hash-checking against peers, should solve the problem.

I've done this before for personal files. My sophomore year of college I had my laptop hard drive die with no backups since the start of the semester. I used my laptop for all of my class notes. I managed to restore >90% of my notes by sending a mass e-mail to my classmates for them to send back the copies of notes I'd sent them. My policy of sharing my notes freely to anyone who wanted them worked in my favor, heavily.

Comment Re:Free Speech? Of course! (Score 1) 343

There are artistic games, just as there are artistic books. But the artistic games are hidden under the mountain of mass-marktet games, just as the artistic books are hidden under the mountain of mass-market books.

A quick Google search (string="artistic video game") turns up a list of the "7 most artistic video games". Note that none of the reviews are "it's fun to shoot people in the face." They focus on the visual style, originality, and story.

As for the larger question of controversial video games, I ask you to consider what would happen to a classic academic game if digitized. The Prisoner's Dilemma flash game would be called unrealistic, desensitizing people to the real issues of discrimination and injustice in the prison system. The think-of-the-children crowd would scream about how it glorifies prison life and teaches children to betray one another. The sequel would be in 3d, with Hollywood voice actors and writers, and would clearly depict the decapitation of your fellow prisoners, who you beat in online play. The academic and social value of the game wouldn't deter it's controversy, and in many ways would fuel it.

We can't afford to really inhibit controversial (ideas | books | games) as a whole, because every good (idea | book | game) is at first controversial. Better to teach people to separate the wheat from the chaff and let ideas roam free.

Comment Re:Ugh (Score 1) 201

I'd much rather we use our public university system (which is well regarded) to compile text books and withhold state funds from districts that insist on going elsewhere.

There are two parts of your system that raise concern for me:
1. Creation of a new legal monopoly to solve an older monopoly.
2. Allowing a state-funded agency to write the only books that local schools can buy.

I like the first half of your idea but not the latter. Here is an alternative proposal that I think more people could get behind:

Because the high cost of entry for textbook writing creates a natural monopoly, and because the State of California has on staff a group of academics fully qualified to write those textbooks, the State should create textbooks to act as competition in the market, probably lowering prices and increasing the value of textbooks for California students.

The advantage of this proposal is that it doesn't shut the door on local municipalities who don't trust the state-run knowledge factories and it explains why the market isn't doing a good job and needs fixing.

Anyone else want to make some improvements to my proposal?

Comment Re:Segmentation (Score 1) 474

See Price Discrimination.

The whole point of global segmentation of markets is to enforce different prices for different regions, allowing the monopoly copyright holders more profit. A movie sells for $2 in the Phillipines because that's the demand; it sells for $25 in the U.S. because that's the demand. IP laws ensure that price has everything to do with demand and nothing to do with supply.

I don't believe in international IP laws which harmonize laws but don't force harmonized pricing.

Comment Re:It's not possible even in theory (Score 1) 266

I disagree. Consider the case of journaling a file structure. It is possible to encrypt the data AND the journal. Then you need only retrieve, decrypt, and analyze the journal.

This retrieval can be done client side. The trick would be creating the journal. The only practical ways I see to do it are:
1. Have the server do it, which requires them (temporarily) seeing the decrypted data.
2. Do it before uploading, which requires having the entire data set client-side, which defeats the online storage.
3. Do it client side, which requires passing all the data over the connection but entirely storing it. Consumes network resources, but doesn't violate privacy or require substantial client-side storage.

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PL/I -- "the fatal disease" -- belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set. -- Edsger W. Dijkstra, SIGPLAN Notices, Volume 17, Number 5