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Comment Re:What's with this fixation? (Score 2) 328


What you have to realise is that Disney has already created 'Hour of Code' activities which are really not much more than adverts for Disney franchises. In fact, incredibly effective adverts as you have to interact with them. Now they want those "adverts" to be a part of every students classwork all the time so encouraging all students to have to learn to code/ have to play with your adverts is incredibly powerful.

I really believe Disney couldn't give a stuff about coding. This is just more greed and just another way to make education the marketing arm of yet another corporation.

Comment Will this happen elsewhere? (Score 2) 243

I live in Australia and I would like to see us go down a similar path.

If the UK proves it works I really hope it spreads elsewhere and also leads to the end of the massive profits these companies are amassing. I'm sure there profits will still be quite sizable but this should make it a bit more reasonable. I'm not an economist so correct me if I'm wrong here but it seems many countries are not in the best of financial states at the moment and each of these corporations taking $billions each quarter out of economies without realistically contributing back is a contributing factor in this? If this type of taxing spreads globally it could be a big factor (amongst several others) in getting economies back on track?

Comment What happens when? (Score 1) 389

Something I have sometimes thought about is what happens when all these jobs are replaced?

If a large amount of the population doesn't have work, and a significant other chunk is worried it may soon join it. Then they either don't have money to spend, or are scared to spend what little they have. Once this gets over a certain point then businesses lose a large amount of their paying customers, leading to further job losses, and falling profits and snowballing the situation. Governments also lose out as revenue from taxes decreases sharply (and as such may not be able to support the unemployed). Those who do have the money are also particularly good at not giving it to the government.

What happens then? Do governments collapse and the uber wealthy step in and say 'we are your new overlords'? We effectively go back to monarchy?
Or do we have massive uprisings as this time we don't have uneducated peasants at the bottom but somewhat educated people who can understand what is happening and also use technology to collaborate? Do new companies spring up, willing to offer products at reaonable prices and take business away from the greedy ones? Does traditional currency get set aside and replaced with new ones, causing a reset and effectively destroying the wealth of the wealthy? Or something completely different, taking into account factors I've missed?

Comment Re:He's dead Jim (Score 1) 265

My guess is that they will get some ads put together with catchy jingles and get some media attention with *experts* praising how great it is and how it frees you from those *evil* Google and Apple folk (who we already know are intent on farming your information) and also will lead to cheaper prices. Then they will get their partners to run a heap of specials in store for using CurrentC for the first few months. A large chunk of Joe averages will sign up to get the specials and after a while the habit is formed.

Yes, most people in the tech community are concerned and understand why they should be but the majority of people aren't in the tech community and unfortunately probably don't care about security because that *expert* on TV told them it was very safe and, more importantly, they got to save a few dollars.

It will be interesting to see how Google and Apple retaliate (and I really hope they do in some way).

Comment Re:If Google paid their taxes ;) (Score 2) 137

Indeed. It also potentially starts setting a dangerous precedent. Once other corporations see the benefits of "donating" like this they will want to do more of it. It wouldn't surprise me to see the government happily oblige and also reduce the funding it provides, as incentive. This continues and the corporations will soon be making quite meaningful "donations". With that will come some very strong influence over how things are run and I'm sure it will be to their benefit as opposed to ours.

Soon enough it won't be the corporations not paying their taxes to the government but the government not paying it's rent to the corporations.

Comment Re:Teachers perspective... (Score 5, Interesting) 225

That's interesting as we are actually having the opposite to your experience in the school I work at.

The teachers (mostly) think they are great

Before students had these devices they had pen and paper. Now they have a device that does word processing, spreadsheets, basic multimedia, communication (email, video chat etc), has access to a wealth of information through the internet for research, access to our online learning environment and more. A lot of activities that are great for education across every subject and that they couldn't do prior with pen and paper. And it does all these activities rather well and because it is low powered it easily lasts a whole day without recharging (with the model we have). This last point is really important as it alleviates the problem of a mess of cables for people to trip over etc but it also allows people to move around a lot easier than when they are tethered which is good for collaboration exercises.

Of course it doesn't do cad and multimedia and all that other fancy stuff. That is what our labs are for and in our opinion a desktop with a 20 something inch screen and a mouse and that is plugged into power permanently is much better for doing those tasks than even a high end laptop.

Actually you can do cad and multimedia and a lot of that other stuff on these devices. There are web based options for many of these things. Sure they aren't as powerful but for teaching the theory and concepts you shouldn't need the full blown tools (unless you are a poor teacher who doesn't understand the theory and concepts well enough and can only teach a product which you yourselves were taught on.) For instance we teach students cad with and they easily transfer those skills over to AutoCad in later years.

From a management point of view they are awesome. Way fewer breakdowns than with traditional laptops and when they do, a lot of the time a Power Wash and the student is back up and running in a matter of minutes. If it's hardware we loan them another device, they log in and are off and running again in a few minutes, and again when they get their repaired device (or a replacement) back.

I really hate this argument that a device that is easy to manage and offers many things they didn't have before (with just pen and paper) which are of value and which this device does really well, and is actually quite well priced, is useless because it doesn't do some other things which are specialised and for which we already have better devices doing those tasks anyways.

Comment Re:meh. (Score 5, Interesting) 285

I know it's fun to hate on Apple but in this particular situation I actually believe they made the right choice going with Apple. Just to give my background, I'm an educator at university level but help manage the IT for a local high school so I appreciate the educational effects of the technology but also the management behind the scenes.

First off, students (and teachers) don't look after technology. Especially when it is not theirs personally (ie bought with their own cash). Our experience has shown the Apple products hold up much better to abuse over time than the $150 Android tablets you mention. There is also a larger (and in our opinion, better) selection of rugged cases available to further protect them. After a few years of abuse the iPad is still working (though covered in scratches), the Androids are largely broken messes.

Apple devices also have a good history of recieving OS updates. Sure they slow down over time but you don't have to apply the updates if you don't want. We find that applying updates for the first 2 years after purchase is beneficial but after that we test before deciding to update or not. With Android you have no idea how long (if at all) the vendor will support with updates.

So from a monetary point of view the total cost of owership (and experience) is actually better (for us in our opinion and situation) over many abused devices over a 3 year lifespan. We are keeping an eye on things though and Android/ Android vendors are definitely improving and closing the gap. If our opinion changes down the track we'll happily switch over.

In terms of software/ apps. Couldn't care less which has the largest app store etc. Only care which has the most useful apps/ software for our purposes and again Apple wins here (in our opinion).

In terms of educational value, again I believe this is a big picture, long term proposition. Like any technology, the value is not in it itself, it's in how it's used. And like any other technology, it's going to take a while for our understanding of it's best use to evolve and mature. Of course it's not going to have immediate and obvious benefits straight away but you have to go through this learning stage to get there. You can't just magically jump straight to the benefits stage. The normal teachers are just using them as glorified text books right now but they are also getting used to them and how they work and how to manage a class with them. The innovative teachers (and students) are experimenting and learning and doing fantastic things with them. Over time that will filter down to the rest.

Also, I hate it when people judge the value of something based on if it improves exam marks of not. Exam marks are worth didly squat once you get out into the real world and we're focusing way too much on them as opposed to the the skills you really need out in the real world. Technology, applied thoughtfully, can help students develop many skills such as problem solving and creativity and team work and understanding how and why to be socially responsible etc and these are skills which are hard to measure and we largely ignore as a result.

Comment Re:Get real (Score 1) 254

Or the more worse alternative where websites become sponsored by interested parties. (With said sponsorship maybe or maybe not being disclosed)

X Hardware Review Website : Sponsored by Microsoft - In our latest article we discuss how the SP3 totally trumps every other tablet out there and why people are buying them by the truckload.

Much of it may also become paywalled, which is fine when it's a small amount of the content out there but if it becomes more mainstream we end up with issues of equality where a lot of information is really only accessible to the wealthy.

Comment And then used it for Piracy (Score 5, Funny) 220

And then imagine if he used that $8000 to buy a computer and an internet connection and downloaded a few pirated songs doing literally $trillions in damage.

My estimates are that he could easily have downloaded enough pirated content with that much internet to cause enough damage to bankrupt the entire world.

Comment Quality and Price (Score 1) 258

I think this is only going to get worse as things improve. When all you can make are low quality, tiny objects, of 1 (maybe 2 or 3) colours then nobody really cares too much if you copy their designs as you can't do anything terribly useful with them. But as the price comes down meaning they become more widely accessible, and the quality and size of output improves I believe companies and individuals will quickly become very interested in lobbying for IP laws against these printers.

Not that I want those laws mind you but given the way they are behaving with things such as movies and music I think it's inevitable.

Comment Competition (Score 1) 442

I think this presents an exciting opportunity for MS.

What they need to do is create a competition where entrants have to propose the best idea for what could be done with all these unsold devices. The catch is thought that your idea must use all the devices.

That way they can get a lot of publicity and also get rid of all that stock in one go.

So ideas could be for instance:
- laying them all down in a big grid to make the worlds largest disco floor, then breaking the record for largest number of hipsters dancing on it in one go.
- Getting them all to run a SETI program
- Developing a plot for a movie that involves saving the world from an invading army of highly efficient worker class aliens by clicking the keyboard onto millions of Surfaces at exactly the same time.
- I'm sure you can come up with better ones...

Comment Andoid and not Chrome (Score 1) 319

Interesting. I would have thought Chrome would have been a better fit for the laptop but I guess Intel is keen to push Touch and Android is much better suited to that end.

I wonder too if this is a ploy to encourage MS to lower its prices too?

To me it looks like Intel is pushing touch as a must have feature to try and get everyone to upgrade but I see it mostly as a fad myself (kinda like 3D TV). It's kinda interesting but ultimately not upgrade worthy.

Though if someone implemented it in such a way that it really did add value then I would be happy to change my mind.

Comment Re:Grades grammar not content. A.I. not ready yet. (Score 1) 253

Get ready to see SEO (Submission Engine Optimisation) specialists cropping up and making a fortune off lazy students.

Or should that be ESO (Essay Submission Optimisation)

And new websites such as LOLEssays where you can see examples of the most ridiculous essays people actually got top marks for.

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