Thursday, August 28, 2008

Open for Business: Open Courseware Collections for Web Entrepreneurs - Biz.Edu

If you are considering going into business for yourself and using the Internet as your vehicle, then you will want to ensure you have the best background possible to make your venture a success. With open courseware readily available, there is no reason why you can’t provide the knowledge for yourself that many business students gain from some of the top universities in the world. The following open courseware selections will give you the edge when it comes to knowing about business.

Open for Business: 100+ Open Courseware Collections for Web Entrepreneurs - Biz.Edu
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Search 28,773 house plans to find your perfect home

The largest online collection of house plans, making quality home design affordable. Search and explore our house plans. Save favorites. Customize any plan. Budget your home building project with our instant Cost-to-Build Report., The best house plans, home plans and floor plans collections to buy at the best prices
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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sugata Mitra: Can kids teach themselves?

Speaking at LIFT 2007, Sugata Mitra talks about his Hole in the Wall project. Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own -- and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."

Punished By Rewards

There is a time to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense. At the point when objections are not answered anymore because they are no longer even raised, we are not in control: we do not have the idea, it has us.

This book is about an idea that has attained just such a status in our society. The idea is that the best way to get something done is to provide a reward to people when they act the way we want them to. Scholars have debated the meaning and traced the development of the intellectual traditio known as behaviourism. What interests me, though, is the popular (or pop) incarnation of this doctrine, the version that lives in our collective consciousness and affects what we do every day. - Alfie Kohn

Friday, August 22, 2008

BBC NEWS | Technology | Poor earning virtual gaming gold

Nearly 500,000 people in developing nations earn a wage making virtual goods in online games to sell to players, a study has found.

Research by Manchester University shows that the practice, known as gold-farming, is growing rapidly.

The industry, about 80% based in China, employs about 400,000 people who earn £77 per month on average.

Big industry

Professor Richard Heeks, head of the development informatics group at Manchester who wrote the report, said gold farming had become a significant economic sector in many developing nations.

"I initially became aware of gold farming through my own games-playing but assumed it was just a cottage industry," said Professor Richard Heeks from the University of Manchester who wrote the report.

"In a way that is still true. It's just that instead of a few dozen cottages, there turn out to be tens of thousands."

In many online games virtual cash remains rare and many people turn to suppliers such as gold farmers to get money to outfit avatars with better gear, weapons or a mount.

Some gold-farming operations offer other services such as "power levelling" in which they assume control of a player's character and turn it into a high-powered hero far faster than the original owner could manage themselves.

Prof Heeks said very accurate figures for the size of the gold farming sector were hard to come by but his work suggested that in 2008 it employs 400,000 people who earn an average of $145 (£77) per month creating a global market worth about $500m.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Poor earning virtual gaming gold
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2008 Is the Coldest Year of the 21st Century

Thank you for this post. I am no scientist, but I am an undergrad in a dual major in Engineering/Science (mathematics), there are certain things that really trouble me about contemporary climate science. For one, there appears to be an over reliance on climate models based on broad sweeping assumptions, and an extreme exaggeration of the capacity of any given model to produce accurate results. Increasingly, the GW science seems to be violating Poppers fundamental philosophy of scientific hypothesis: The only theory worth considering is that which can be disproven. Or rather, science is not about proving as such, it is about disproving. I want to see the falsifiability of climate change theory thoroughly discussed, but it never is, nobody can challenge the models, nobody is allowed to question the methods, nobody is allowed to offer alternative to the mainstream narrative. Its a dangerous place for science to be. More and more I see GW predictions failing the falsifiability test: hot year? Earth is warming, cold year? Earth is unstable due to warming, flood: GW, everything, everything under the sun is being attributed to GW.

The 'consensus' worries me also, moreso in fact. There is rarely consensus in science, especially when dealing with fundamentally complex, non-linear dynamical systems which are proven to be inherently chaotic. Even when a theory is sound and mature, the most important consideration is that you are making predictions by using a model, an inherently and unavoidably flawed model. It is always, always important to cite assumptions and errors when making predictions with any model. But if you question the validity of current climate modelling, you are branded a heretic, a denier, and the worst of all: a skeptic. As if being a skeptic in science is suddenly the wrong thing to do? What happened?

All scientists are skeptics, a scientist without skepticism is no scientist, he is a fool. Worse still believing that computer models are completely trustworthy is like believing your lego starship enterprise will fly you to the moon.

I am not a denier, but I am certainly skeptical. I am certainly open to hypotheses, theories, models and all manner of explanations for given data sets, observations etc. But I am deeply troubled by the way discussion and debate about something as highly chaotic and poorly understood as the climate is shut down so vigorously these days. Worse still, the politicians and economists are on board. I can't help but be just a tad aware that politicians will leap on any populist position and economists are always hungry for new derivatives markets.

2008 Is the Coldest Year of the 21st Century
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Disinformation - Slashdot | Anti-Net Neutrality Astroturfer Exposed

"Ever wonder about all those groups claiming Google had a 'search monopoly' (as if there are no other search engines), or worse, coming out against Net Neutrality? CNet has a story about a shady DC lobbying group called LawMedia Group, being paid by Microsoft and Comcast, that is behind many of these attacks. That said, it's a mystery why they weren't able to pay more authoritative groups than the American Corn Growers Association or the League of Rural Voters to weigh in on technical matters. As a computer geek from corn country, I wouldn't solicit their opinion on tractor repair, let alone Internet policy."

It has long been understood that disinformation is a powerful weapon. That's why the US Army has Pysop. [] Yes, propaganda that is disguised as a grassroots movement or the work of independent experts is disinformation, not advertising. Part of taking in information (like a product review or political statement) is accounting for the source of that information, ie you will consider the words of someone you respect more than words of someone you regard as a fool. So misrepresenting the source of information is a form of disinformation, and disinformation is weapon, weapons are used to control and destroy. Why are corporations allowed to control and destroy things like legislative process and public political awareness? Sure it's subtle damage, but over time it has done much harm to our society.

Slashdot | Anti-Net Neutrality Astroturfer Exposed

Also see Ron Suskind - Way of the World - he talks about how WMD letter is created by US Govt.

Also see

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Surprising Things That Affect Memory

By regularly gorging on the white bread that's complimentary at restaurants, you're spiking your insulin. You may also be causing the insulin-degrading enzyme that exists in the brain to work overtime removing insulin, rather than getting rid of beta-amyloid proteins, the toxic protein that produces Alzheimer's disease. Carbohydrates are to the brain what cigarettes are to the lungs, Fortanasce says.

Research published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology also shows that eating fish may help prevent memory loss and stroke in healthy, older adults. The study looked at the brain scans of more than 2,300 people age 65 and older. It found that those who ate broiled or baked tuna and other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, mackerel, anchovies) three or more times per week had a nearly 26% lower risk that the silent brain lesions would be linked to dementia and stroke.

The wrong dietary choices can have a significantly adverse impact. Consider a study out of Loughborough and Oxford Universities last month, funded by the Alzheimer's Research Trust, concerning the high consumption of soy foods, such as tofu.

Of 700 elderly Indonesians, those who ate tofu at least once a day had an increased risk of dementia or memory loss, particularly if they were over age 65. Researchers believe the link might be due to soy products' phytoestrogens, which may offer some neural benefits to the middle-aged and young but could harm those over 65.

Surprising Things That Affect Memory -
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Performance Reviews

These are actual quotes taken from job performance reviews

  1. I would not allow this employee to breed.
  2. This associate is really not so much of a has-been, but more definitely a won't be.
  3. Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.
  4. When she opens her mouth, it seems it is only to change whichever foot was previously there.
  5. He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle.
  6. This young lady has delusions of adequacy.
  7. He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.
  8. This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.
  9. This employee should go far and the sooner he starts, the better.
  10. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
  11. Got into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn't watching.
  12. A room temperature IQ.
  13. Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it together.
  14. A gross ignoramus - 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus.
  15. A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on.
  16. A prime candidate for natural deselection.
  17. Bright as Alaska in December.
  18. One-celled organisms outscore him in IQ tests.
  19. Donated his brain to science before he was done using it.
  20. Fell out of the family tree.
  21. Gates are down, lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming.
  22. Has two brains: one is lost; the other is out looking for it.
  23. He's so dense, light bends around him.
  24. If brains were taxed, she'd get a refund.
  25. If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week.
  26. If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you'll get change.
  27. If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean.
  28. It's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm.
  29. One neuron short of a synapse.
  30. Some drink from the fountain of knowledge, he only gargled.
  31. Takes him an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes.
  32. Wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.
  33. Since my last report, this employee has reached rock bottom and has started to dig.
  34. His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of morbid curiosity.