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Comment Re:A monumentally bad idea (Score 2) 280

I think what they're trying to do is move people over to the evaluations, which is really what TechNet was *supposed* to be for. Sure, the license keys you got with it allowed you to "indefinitely evaluate" their software (in a lab environment, or whatever), but with some trials lasting as long as half a year, it's kind of become redundant.

Comment Re:I am a chemistry professor... (Score 2) 372

> If you're the kind of person who can't keep a piece of paper, or who can't enter the important information from that piece of paper into the data device of your choosing, you're probably not going to do well in the course anyway.

I honestly hope that's really not what you believe. I have a few profs who don't post their syllabi online, and it's really infuriating. I don't have access to my notebooks 24/7, and the syllabus contains enough information that I can't simply copy without spending a significant amount of time doing so. If it was posted on a course website, I could access it from anywhere, even if I don't have my stuff, or even if I happened to misplace the paper amongst all the other hundreds of pieces I get every term.

It's already in digital form. How hard is it to upload?

> But more to the point, learning technology is almost always more suited for the student than for the instructor.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but bear with me.

I'm not saying the students should have it easy or don't have to work hard to get what they need, but some professors have this attitude that if something makes their lives simpler, despite its effects on students, they will take that route.

One of my accounting professors is a good example of this. The school has an amazing online system for tests, quizzes, and homework assignments. All it really requires is the professor to input questions into a bank and he/she can issue these things over the internet. Of course, they could also give a paper assignment, but let's say the prof wants an online one. This professor refuses to use that system; instead, he opts with the publisher's system. This not only requires me to pay $100 to access (I bought the book used so I guess I get punished for not paying retail), but also to suffer through the publisher's shitty system. The questions are ambiguous, the HTML is half-broken, the alignment is off, there are 400 dropdown boxes that offer 30 answers and any one of them could be the right one, and it penalizes you for leaving a field blank instead of putting a zero (even though in accounting you don't do that in certain instances). Because of this, my mark suffers.

But the prof insists on doing it because "it makes [his] life easier" and he "doesn't want to mark everyone's assignment manually." But he also can't be assed to use a system that I already paid for (by virtue of paying my fees) and set up his own, unambiguous, well-thought-out questions.

I'm sorry, but I pay your salary. You work for me, not the other way around. I get that you have stuff to do, but please don't compromise my education for your comfort if that means I do poorer for it. I'm not asking you to make my work easy; I'm asking you to give me the education I paid for.

Comment Re:Far scarier is the "concern" list... (Score 2) 386

What I don't understand is why "gay" and "lesbian" are "concern words." I think that's actually more significant and alarming than anything else.

With all the bullying going on in schools, and the corresponding suicides that have peppered the media recently (especially of LGBT teens), I think the last thing that needs to happen are for kids to accidentally out themselves or each other to the designated school censor, whomever that might be.

Why does the North Canton school district feel that they must track any email with the word "gay" and "lesbian" in it? Just what are they trying to track?

The Internet

Submission + - Internet Explorer users have lower IQ, study says (pcworld.com) 2

rennerik writes: "A recent study of 100,000 people taking IQ tests compared the scores with which browser the person uses on a regular basis.

On average, Internet Explorer users fared the worst, with IE6 users at the bottom of the pile and IE8 users performing slightly better. Firefox, Chrome and Safari fell in the middle with little difference between them. IE with Chrome Frame and Camino landed on top, along with Opera, whose users scored the highest"

Comment I had a feeling this was going to happen (Score 3, Informative) 54

I submitted a story about this about a week ago: http://slashdot.org/submission/1653760/Free-Certificate-Authority-StartCom-Taken-Offline and speculated on whether or not this was due to a security breach.

I am a bit disappointed in StartCom, considering they probably knew about this for a while and failed to tell anyone the moment it became apparent.

I am fearful about what, if any customer data, was compromised. When you submit info for validation, you have to submit scans of your ID -- a drivers license, passport etc -- as well as other personal information. If the crackers got a hold of that info, there could be a bastion of fraud being perpetrated without anyone realizing it until it is too late.

Many bank accounts these days can be opened over the Internet simply with a scan of a photo ID and filling out a form. One can apply for loans using the same information without ever setting foot inside a bank. This is a bigger threat, IMO, than fraudulent certs being issued; this can be revoked and patched in a matter of days. Identity theft is never so easy to fix.

Comment Re:Still playing catch-up to C#. (Score 5, Interesting) 385

Your comment caught some flack, but I couldn't help but make a similar observation as I read the spec. It seems that they are adding a lot of stuff to C++ that exists in C# (lambda expressions, delegated constructors, automatic deduction, initialization syntax, a dedicated null keyword, etc).

Of course, they added a bunch of stuff that's also NOT in C# (since it's not necessary in a high-level language like C#), but I am glad that they are revamping C++ to incorporate some higher-level functions. Now we just have to wait for compilers to start adopting the new spec...

Submission + - Free Certificate Authority StartCom Taken Offline (startssl.com)

rennerik writes: The Internet's only certificate authority that is included in all major operating systems and browsers and also issues free certificates has gone offline until at least June 20th.

The StartCom website had been down throughout the day with a maintenance message claiming that it will be back "within the hour," but then changed to a message stating it will not be back until next week.

An e-mail sent to StartCom's founder, Eddy Nigg, asking about the reason for the downtime, came back with a reply from employee Sapir Kahlon saying, "unfortunately we can't say anything about it."

With the recent hacks by LulzSec, it is worrying that a corporation that is a bastion of personal information (as they request scans of drivers' licenses and passports in order to verify identities) goes offline so quickly and without comment, after many years of operation without any interruptions.


Submission + - China: Teenager 'sells kidney for iPad' (bbc.co.uk)

arisvega writes: A teenager in China has sold one of his kidneys in order to buy an iPad 2, Chinese media report.

The 17-year-old, identified only as Little Zheng, told a local TV station he had arranged the sale of the kidney over the internet.

The story only came to light after the teenager's mother became suspicious.

The case highlights China's black market in organ trafficking. A scarcity of organ donors has led to a flourishing trade.

Comment This really isn't new at all (Score 5, Insightful) 962

Have they been successful in transforming the world?

Anti-intellectualism, anti-science, or anti-whatever-else has been prevalent in at least the United States for a very, very long time. And it starts when you're very young.

I remember being in school, in first grade. I was smarter than a lot of other kids in my class, and because of that I was ostracized. I wasn't allowed to be an intellectual; stupidity was celebrated. Acts of buffoonery were promoted and lauded.

Is it any coincidence why the most socially-outgoing people, in the history of K-12, are typically *not* the intellectuals? The "nerds" and "geeks" are always kept from ever rising above the "jocks" on the social ladder.

When you make it to college/university, it doesn't change very much. The nerds are at least not the brunt of jokes, and they're allowed to sit in the science and engineering buildings well into the night, silently doing their nerdy sciency and engineery things.

But the loud ones -- in sports, and poli-sci -- are still the non-intellectuals of the high school years. And these are the ones who grow up to be politicians.

So when articles like this act surprised that the majority of the government is filled with anti-elitist and anti-intellectuals, I have to wonder – were they paying attention any, growing up? This sort of conditioning –letting people know that being smart is NOT COOL – starts from a very young age.

But these people became successful? So they must be smart, right? Oh, if only. It's not about what you know, but rather about who you know. Nerds don't really socialize; we focus on our work, because that makes us happy. The others schmooze and network like crazy, with like-minded anti-science colleagues, who later become leaders, while we're the ones left wondering where the world is heading.

They become rich and powerful, and spread their ideas to the next generation. Of course, not all of them are successful. Many of them are not. Many of them remained dumb because they didn't realize the importance of knowledge, since it was ingrained to them from a very early age to think that knowledge and intellect are ELITIST and UNCOOL. And so they raise their kids that same way.

And we're back to square one.

I've experienced this first hand, and I am sure many have here as well.

It sucks; it's terrible. It shouldn't be like this. But it is. And I really have no idea what to do to stop it, but the article is right about one thing – it's terribly dangerous.

Comment Re:As a hungarian... (Score 2) 185

> As an American, you can never, ever be right to praise America, EVER.

I think most *reasonable* people can tell you when something works in America, versus something that doesn't in another country.

I think you're right, to an extent, that anti-Americanism is prevalent all over the place. I felt it in Hungary when I was there last, and I feel it here in Canada where I am attending university. But despite all of that, I find the points that people make against America are ill-informed, or hyperbolized. I find myself correcting many misconceptions. I also realized that most people outside of the U.S. tend to paint Americans with the brush they're given: our leaders, and our tourists. Our leaders are obnoxious, so people think that every living, breathing American is an amalgamation of their deeds or actions, when in reality, the bulk of the populace is nothing like the people that lead our country.

That being said, I think I have a rather interesting viewpoint from other Americans. There was a lot of multi-cultural focus growing up (my parents are very traditional, conservative Hungarians coming from the post-WWII, Soviet-bloc-era Hungary), and I think that's given me a rather different perspective. I don't think praising America is seen as something bad, even within America. Painting liberals or leftists as being against praising America is disingenuous. Praising America, where praise is called for, is not wrong. I think where people start having an issue with it, is when they see Americans as not realizing that something outside of America *cannot possibly* be better than the American way.

National healthcare is one which I've seen in-action, on a first-person basis living here in Canada as a student. I can tell you with absolute certainty, that it is better than anything I have ever experienced in the US. My family has a very expensive health insurance policy, and neither its quality, nor its execution, compared to what is offered here. This is obviously my own personal experience, and may not reflect the actual facts situation at-large, but from what I've heard, it's fairly accurate. But there are flaws with this system (flaws which I am willing to look past, given its long-term effectiveness), and having experienced both this system and the American health insurance system, I can point-by-point tell you what I believe America is doing wrong, and what I believe Canada is doing wrong. The Canadians who have never lived in the U.S. can't say that, neither can the Americans who have never lived in Canada. That's why I felt the whole 'debate' was a farce. The Republicans spent too much time talking about socialism (as if there's anything wrong with it), and the Democrats spent too much time talking about capitalism (as if there's anything wrong with it) -- both sides trying to protect their interests, but neither side willing to actually look at facts and decide what's the best option.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. It's late, and I have a penchant for rambling when I'm tired. I think the ultimate point I was trying to make is: you made a jab at the 'leftist' NYT and the 'leftist' universities in the US. The truth is, that it's those 'leftist' institutions which taught me to respect every culture -- including my own. You say the editorial board of the NYT would take umbrage to my statement saying it wouldn't fly in the US? Sure, they'd point out every point of corruption and use it as a counter-argument. To which my response would be: of course, no system is perfect. Our system works better than Hungary's -- at the moment -- but only because our economical and social situation allows it to. And who are they not to criticize? If we stopped criticizing, we'd never get better as a people. Sure, we're not as *bad* as Hungary, but we can be better than we are. I went to the same schools everyone else did; I sang the same patriotic songs in the classroom. I think at one point, a segment of us diverged. The group that thinks America can do no wrong went one way, and the group that thinks that America can become better went another, and those two groups continue to fight in Washington, and it's affecting all of us.

Comment Re:As a hungarian... (Score 1, Interesting) 185

Also as a Hungarian, while the laws controlling media and empowering censorship *are* rather disturbing (as is their recent ruling against gay marriage and other "moral depravity"), the nationalization of pensions and the overhaul of the tax system was a necessary evil.

There was so much corruption in the government over the past several decades. Big corporations were funneling money from pensions into private interests and out-of-country. They had their representatives create loopholes in the tax system to prevent paying taxes, where the private citizen had to pay even more. Hungary's national debt became huge because of this. The legal system is also not without its problems.

Sometimes I believe you need drastic solutions to such deep-seated corruption. That being said, however, I do think that such a concentration of power is *very* dangerous, and sets a bad precedent. This new media law is definitely a sign that something is amiss.

Say what you will about the U.S., but people more or less respect the rule of law. A case may be controversial, and the result may be unappealing, but ultimately all parties understand that without order and due process, there is no government. No matter how corrupt elements of the government are, they still have to answer, ultimately, to the people (whenever that would see the light of day). In Hungary, it's a bit different. People can get away with a lot of things, and I've seen the level of corruption that exists with my own eyes. None of that would fly here in the States.

So is the government taking so much power the right thing to do? I don't know. I'm sure you can argue that, because of this corruption, it's precisely the *worst* decision you could make (give the government more power), but short of an actual revolution by a populace, how else do you clean up your own governing institutions? The only way you can, is elect people to make sweeping changes. But, as they say, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I think Orban is heading in the wrong direction. I think he's made efforts to change things, but I also think his intentions are now suspect with laws demanding censorship and other restrictions. I think by doing things like that, one basically rolls back all the good one has done.

We'll see how this plays out. I'm hoping for the best. As a second generation American, I still have very close ties to Hungary (all of my extended family lives there, and I visit often), and I do my best to keep up-to-date on its politics. I don't want my country-of-lineage to have ill repute.

Submission + - Court Says WoW Users Don't Own Their Game Discs (eff.org)

slcdb writes: On Tuesday December 14th, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that World of Warcraft users do not own their copies of the game discs, in effect robbing them of rights they would otherwise have under US copyright law. Because Blizzard's EULA for World of Warcraft is typical of EULAs used by other companies in the software industry, this decision likely affects virtually all other software sold over the counter. If you think you actually own the copies of software that you purchase at a store or online, think again.

Submission + - BMW temporarily burns logo into viewers' retinas (wired.com)

GameboyRMH writes: "BMW, in a video advertisement for their S1000R sportbike playing in German movie theaters, temporarily burned their logo into viewer's retinas as part of the ad, by projecting a bright flash of light through a cutout onto the back of the theater screen. The article includes a video showcasing the use of the effect, the ad itself, and viewers' reactions.

How long will it be before you'll have to wear sunglasses inside the mall to keep special offers from being burned into your retinas?"


Submission + - Time to Rein in Google? (washingtonpost.com)

Hugh Pickens writes: "Steven Pearlstein writes in the Washington Post that there is nothing improper or illegal about Google's monopoly and given the dynamic nature of the technology sector, it would probably be counterproductive to prevent Google from using its money and talent to expand into new areas. "Where I have a problem, however, is in allowing Google to buy its way into new markets and new technologies, particularly when the firms being bought already have a dominant position in their respective market niches," writes Pearlstein. That was certainly the case with the company's acquisitions of You Tube, DoubleClick and AdMob and with Google's proposed $700 million acquisition of ITA Software. "One at a time, these deals might appear to be relatively benign. But taken together, they allow Google to increase the scale and scope of its activities and to further enhance its controlling position across a range of sectors." It's worth remembering that aggressive enforcement of the antitrust laws has been a crucial part of the history of technological innovation in this country, enforcement that allowed AT&T to be supplanted by IBM, IBM by Microsoft and Microsoft by Google. "It's easy to see why Google would want to use well-chosen acquisitions to try to delay or prevent that next round of creative destruction. What's harder to understand is why we would let them do it.""

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