Entries Tagged as 'Education'

What They Teach Kids In School These Days…

Logo of the PlayStation Network First the front story. I was playing a multiplayer game on Playstation. The basic thought was that someone got mad at my play style and decided to call attention to my connection (which I’ll point out, is Time Warner and even though it usually fails me, it was surprisingly good during this story). So this person with the PSN of “KIoey” decided to rag on how I lag, and that’s why I was good and I basically told them that if they stunk at shooting, then quit complaining. Then I decided to tell them that their “ping” probably sucked too.

The response brought on utter shock, and profound laughter.

This person actually wrote back to me that said: “Ping is not a measurement of latency, but your connection to your DNS.”

WOW. We’re talking jaw-dropping wow. If this is what they teach in school for IT/IS, then it’s no wonder college grads can’t get jobs. And in this economy, you better know the basics of networking 101. The first is the definition of “ping”.

Ping is a computer network administration utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network and to measure the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer. The name comes from active sonar terminology.

Another way I taught it when I was a teaching assistant is to think about it as the tracking of delivery of a package. Ping is equivalent to the time it takes from the shipper to send it to the recipient and get a delivery response mailer saying that the package has indeed made it to the destination. To explain it in a little more technical but still in layman’s terms, the idea is to get a single packet from one computer to another, and then get a response where the summation of time of travel is defined by ping. Basics of networking.

Now what Kloey was speaking of on DNS has no validation. DNS means domain name system. This was created long after ping even existed and basically is the renaming of a alphanumeric word choice that is translated to an IP address. So if you type in “google.com”, it actually is translated into an IP address that hosts that data and you’re directed to that place. Ping, has nothing to do with anything here.

So, “KIoey”, I hate to break it to you but if that’s the knowledge you have, it’s going to be tough to get a job during these times. Seriously. And it probably might suffice to actually learn the basics about computer networks next time before throwing out bad knowledge.

Price of textbooks skyrockets money out of your wallet

It’s an amazing thing, that the cost of being a student has risen in the past decade. In talking with a friend, I was told that a freshman’s first semester these days depending on major can easily run over a thousand dollars in textbooks. A grand? Are you friggin’ serious?
That’s absolutely ridiculous considering a couple facts. One is that your textbooks only get more expensive as you progress up through seniority in college. Mainly this is because it’s more specific knowledge, and being that there are less people that learn it, the publisher looks to capitalize on those that do. But to give an example of the difference of textbook costs, my freshman year in college ran about four hundred or so dollars. As the years progressed, I believe my highest book costs were in senior year around eight hundred dollars. Some of this cost is recouped in sell-backs, but not much since you only get maybe a fourth of the price you paid if I remember correctly.
Costs can be further pushed back by buying used books. Or even ordering the text versions from another source such as Amazon. But some collegiate bookstores are now going through the nasty gestapo tactic of giving you the book lists in advance or not giving them to you at all forcing non-outspoken students to buy only from the school bookstore.
It’s not wonder that there are open source books are now becoming more and more popular. I do understand that some texts supplement some professors’ incomes but on the flip side, I also do remember some absolutely ridiculous Calculus texts that cost close to sixty dollars that were bound like the stuff you get at Kinkos.
Scary stuff. Education is becoming unaffordable with these insane costs that hit the students’ wallets. Now, granted that bio and chem books are more expensive in the long run so if you don’t have a major that requires them, it might be cheaper. But shelling out even a measly five hundred a semester racks up like nothing else. And if you’re on a quarter system? Woe is you. Three times a year versus twice for semester based.
And here you thought that people wanted you to have an education. They do. They just want you to rack up some serious student debt on textbooks too, as if tuition alongside room and board wasn’t hurting your wallet already.


Spice is a circuit simulator for the Unix platform to analyze and design IC boards without having to build and design those circuits. This piece of software has been around for a while and I totally forgot that it was freely available for not only education but actually as design utility.
There are others out there that are commercial and have more functionality and such, but overall, you can’t beat the free from U.C. Berkeley. I remember spending many late night hours in the lab with this piece of software and if you’re looking for something to help do IC design, don’t forget some of your old college software friends.

Learning to speak proper Mandarin

From another contributor at 8A, Joz gives us, Two Chinese Characters, with John B. Weinstein and Carsey Yee.

I have got to say that on one level, it’s very amusing to see people take a different approach at teaching Mandarin. A quick look shows that Weinstein is actually not only a professor of Chinese but he is also fond of Asian theater. Ah ha! Probably thus the entertaining video on Youtube!
Definitely has peaked my interest. I’d also be interested to see if they teach in the simplified version, or the traditional version (since I was raised under traditional) and if there eventually would be spin-offs for different dialects. Hate to say it, but I’ve been putting off learning Cantonese even though I have a whole bunch of movies on my shelf. Give the love to subtitles.
Good stuff, eh? Good stuff.

WorldWide Telescope

worldwidetelescope.jpg In competition with Google Sky, this application allows you to take a look at the stars through multiple images of constellations and what not.
Pretty much think Virtual Earth, but for the sky and you basically have it figured out. It’s actually a pretty interface, and seems to work decently as long as you fulfill the Windows requirements. Bravo by Microsoft Research for this product. I’m not so sure if this product would make me cry though.
Despite Scoble push, I did find that not having any screenshots or even videos for those that are on non-Windows operating systems slightly disappointing. Outside of that, the interface itself is worthwhile as a tool to teach astronomy. Take a look if you find some time.

Docstoc – find and share professional documents

docstoc.gif If you’re a small business, chances are you have an attorney to take care of your most basic of needs but otherwise the cost of drafting up custom documentation is a hard hitter on your pocket.
While all common sense dictates that an attorney’s word rules above anything you get on the Internet, Docstoc is a good resource to find FREE legal and business documents that others have uploaded.
Now, if you use this, you have to use a grain of salt and perhaps understand how to reword some parts of it to make it fit your business, and on top of it, it’s not guaranteed to be legally water-tight until an attorney looked it over. But for the most basic of policies such as terms of service, privacy policies, and perhaps even basic contracts, this site could save you a whole lot of headache and a little bit left in the wallet.

Republicans want more H1B visas now but didn’t they cut it before?

Haven’t had time to talk about this, but it is something that really annoys me.
It seems that the House Republicans are now going to Speaker of the House and Majority Leader, and asking for an increase in H1B Visas. H1B’s are the visas pertaining to well-educated immigrants in letting them work within the United States under a corporation’s wing. In fact, you really can’t get an H1B without an employer’s sponsorship and it costs the employer a chunk of change to actually fulfill the paperwork.
So all in all, that’s a good thing, right? Definitely. But the spin is what I have an issue with. Let’s not forget that the decrease of H1Bs before was pushed by the administration and like parties while they were pushing for the migrant worker license. The limit for 2007 was set before Congress swung its slim majority to the Democrat Party.
Seriously. Of all the things in the world, H1Bs can only help so why would you decrease these visas in the first place? Well educated individuals from other countries legally want to come work in US soil, pay taxes, and help drive economics. Corporations want to pay for them to come here. Sounds pretty good to me.
Photo Credit: (kaneda99)

Why today’s SAT scoring seems subjective

Back when I took the SAT, it was during the time that they had just introduced the SAT II and were in the process of re-scoring. It was then, when they turned up the math scoring so that you could actually miss a couple problems and still make a 800. I remember clearly that it was also the time that many Ivy league schools moved their average entrance score from 1350 to 1450. It was said that the shift was made due to the standardized scores being low internationally for American students in internationally based statistics. Who knows if that was true or not.
Well, just recently I heard from a cousin that the total score has changed yet again. Apparently now it’s out of 2400 as of 2006. They took away the analogies section, changed mathematics to encompass three years of high school mathematics, and added in the SAT II Writing exam into the main one.
And all I have to say is: “Ick.”
The analogies section was stripped due to some criticism by the University of California system:

“A famous example of alleged bias in the SAT I is the oarsman-regatta analogy question.[23] The object of the question was to find the pair of terms that have the relationship most similar to the relationship between “runner” and “marathon”. The correct answer was “oarsman” and “regatta”.”

Now, I have to say that it’s kind of ridiculous to say that it’s a social issue in knowing the definition of either regatta or an oarsman. The whole point of analogies was a stronger vocabulary, and those particular words or phrases were not in the least bit difficult.
The replacement section (writing) is also very subjective. While they are to be scored on quality of writing the amusing thing is that quality of writing is very subjective. In fact, I had papers in college that would not have passed muster with certain English professors, and would have had amazing grades with others.
The critique from a MIT writing professor came down that the longer the essay, the higher the score according to some trend results from data he was given. That is completely ridiculous.
Unfortunately, it seems that students these days have to deal more so with the human aspect of test taking beyond the scope of right, wrong, or no answer. Now it must be taken into account that someone might like or dislike your writing style to judge quality. I truly feel for today’s high school students since it seems that the college entrance exams have finally met up with politics. And that’s just a sad thought.
Photo Credit: (TheBrassPotato)

Microsoft DreamSpark program provides development tools to students

DreamSparkBanner.png It’s been a while since this press release, but it’s still valid for those that don’t know about the program.
Microsoft DreamSpark is a program that provides all of the development and design tools to students at no charge. If you can be authenticated via their service, then you can download everything from Visual Studio to Expression. I even saw XNA Game Studio which was something that I would have been semi-interested in.
Unfortunately, this program is only limited to college students in the countries of Belgium, China, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the United States. There is however a move to open this program up to high school students globally which will happen probably sometime this year.
One of the perks of being a student is all of the free software you can get legally. At one point it was only the computer science and information technology departments. It seems that Microsoft is opening its doors to everyone else now… and that’s pretty frackin’ cool.

Stanford helps out students with more financial aid

Stanford has stepped up and is now using more of their endowment to help students with their tuition. Good news for families that don’t make more than $100,000 income since there tuition will be free and if the total income is less than $60,000 then room and board is also included.
I think this is a wonderful change for Stanford as a private university that charges over $30,000 a year in tuition and where about seventy-five percent of the student population is on some sort of financial aid or another.
This act is actually a response due to the fact that school endowments are tax exempt and a senator raised the issue that if the public wasn’t seeing enough of a return from the endowments and that raised the question of whether or not they should be tax exempt.
All in all, this is terrific news since it means that more qualified high school students won’t be turned away due to financials to schools that they are suited for. And that’s the way education should be.