Linky Friday #43

josh-brolin-in-w-300Athletics:

[A1] Jerry Kill missed his first full game due to another seizure and is taking leave.

[A2] Daniel H Bowen and Collin Hitt respond to the recent Amanda Ripley piece on school athletics, arguing that it is actually a good thing. Honestly, I think they might have the better argument, at least for some kids. I remember athletes who couldn’t be bothered to show respect for anybody but their coaches.

[A3] David Williams argues that companies should strive to fill their ranks with athletes.

Education:

[E1] The traditional model is that kids hear lectures in the classroom and do homework at home. Maybe we have it backwards.

[E2] Anti-bullying efforts may lead to more bullying. Why? Bullies know what teachers are looking out for. The identification of an increasing array of behavior as bullying may also be playing a role. “Jimmy’s being a bully. He won’t loan me his pencil and he has two.” (Yes, that happened.)

[E3] Childhood bullying has lasting effects. They’re more likely to grow up to be troubled adults. (Or alternately, people who are troubled are more likely to be bullied. Kids can certainly smell vulnerability.)

[E4] Theodore Johnson has a good look at Harvard Extension School, and what it means.

Progress:

[P1] The new IPCC Climate report hat-tips geoengineering. A Texas plant is on it.

[P2] These jetpacks look a lot more cumbersome than what we were told to expect.

[P3] Kaiser tests new medical technology at a fake hospital.

Culture:

[C1] Mermaids in Texas.

[C2] Increasing distance from Deseret has lead to a greater appreciation for the LDS Church. But then they start talking like this.

[C3] An interesting rundown on the progress of women in Utah. I tagged this for reference sake and maybe a future post, but thought I would share it.

[C4] Veterans are having problems with fake service dogs and people believing their service dogs are fake.

[C5] The Columbia Journalism Review asks if copyright law is working. Their answer is “not exactly.”

Technology:

[T1] The only reason I care about Blackberry possibly selling out to Google or Samsung (though it looks like that’s not going to happen) is the foolish hope that one of them will release a good productivity smartphone.

[T2] From Vikram Bath: A journalist recounts the story of a letter she sent to Nokia in 2008 to make an easy-to-use phone. Lost opportunities ensue.

[T3] From Burt Likko: You see those mind-blowing videos on the internet. How do you know they are real? Here’s how they get checked out, because, no one is allowed to post things on the internet that aren’t true.

[T4] The NSA has tried and failed to de-anonymize Tor. Linux godfather Linus Torvalds confirms/denies that the US government approached him about a backdoor to Linux.

World:

[W1] Here is what we thought Earth looked like from space, before we actually saw what Earth looked like from space.

[W2] Millions of years ago, the west coast was further east. Sort of. Interesting maps.

[W3] Germany’s latest export? Grandmothers.

[W4] The French are an unhappy people.

[W5] In case you wanted to know what a $300,000 house in China, there ya go. And here is a look at China’s vertical city.

[W6] The situation with China’s ghost cities may not be as bad as they appear.

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17 thoughts on “Linky Friday #43

  1. T2:

    I’m continually amazed at tech companies that don’t understand that our techno-items are just tools, and that nobody wants a tool they can’t easily figure out how to use. Especially when we already know how to use that tool, we don’t want an upgrade that requires a steep new learning curve. Spending time every couple of years to re-learn how to use the tools we already know how to use is colossally inefficient and a sure-fire way to ensure your customers start looking for a different supplier.

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    • I remember when they started to really screw around with the Office UI really badly somewhere around v2007. “Hey, remember the basic set of menus and features you’ve been using for nearly 20 years? Those 20 features that everybody actually uses out of the 100,000 that we offer? Let’s play a game…”

      WHY?? The only reasons to use Office over other better tools were that was ubiquitous and everybody knew how to do the easy things quickly.

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      • Some years back when I was designing a web page and scouring the internets for information on how to do it and what constituted good or bad design, I ran across a page about bad design that mentioned the possibility of having a set of link buttons that not only were nameless until you clicked on them, but that traded positions with each other randomly. He even created an example on the page, and iirc, called it a “mystery meat” approach.

        I’m somewhat surprised Windows hasn’t tried that with their menus yet. It seems the logical progression given their history.

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    • Somebody still a little bit bitter at Microsoft for Windows 8? :)

      I hear ya. As a somewhat nerdish fellow, though, a part of me cringes at “easily figure out how to use” because, though it doesn’t need to it often comes bundled with “an inability to customize.” Or an inability to easily do so. iPhone is a case and point. Android is certainly easier to use than Windows Mobile, but it’s not as customizable. Linux is in a bit of an odd place, where it is both really easy to do basic tasks, but once you want to move beyond those it becomes very difficult (“To be able to do anything, you have to learn everything.”)

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      • A little?

        And as much as I like Apples approach on the IPad and IPhone, their latest update was not only visually uglier, but screwed up some familiar things (like how to search within a web page–even though it’s still simple, it’s different without being better), and I have steadfastly refused to update my IPhone.

        Keep in mind most people don’t want to customize that much. I was happy to figure out how to delete some apps (or at least their button) on my IPhone and how to bundle some others, to make the screen’s layout neater and more easily navigable, but I have no interest in doing much beyond that. And I’m probably a more typical customer than you. Anyway, the article you linked to clearly shows that customization–at least to the simple extent of setting your own ring tone–was damn near impossible to figure out with that phone. What’s the point of having options just to have options, if you design them so the bulk of your customers can’t figure them out?

        You know what’s great about cars, table saws and microwaves? You don’t have to spend much time figuring out how to operate a new one, regardless of the manufacturer.

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      • To be fair, if today’s patent regime had been in place back during the birth of the automobile, we’d drive a Ford with a steering wheel, a Chevy with a joystick, and Chrysler using our feet because nobody would be able to use the same design.

        Nokia really dropped the ball, of that there is no doubt. And yes, I do realize that I am a bit of an outlier. Markets suck almost as much as democracy does. People don’t want to learn enough about the issues and candidates, and people don’t want to spend 10-15 hours custumizing their UCCW widget to display all of the information perfectly. Hell in a handbasket, I tell you.

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  2. P2: The sleek free-flying long-duration jet packs we were told to expect were all based on “then a miracle occurs” tech. Anti-gravity, or chemical fuels with enormously greater energy release than JP8 (with atmospheric oxygen) or rocket fuels (with built-in oxidizer) that were safe enough to handle, or… Anyone who ran the numbers got the same answer. If we could have jet packs like that, we’d also have a dirt-cheap way to LEO as well, which would be much more revolutionary.

    Not to mention safety. Every time I ever saw clips from “The Rocketeer”, I cringed at the idea of exhaust gases at something >1000 °F shooting down the back of your legs.

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  3. W2: National Geographic has some nice maps of what happens if sea levels rise by 66 meters (roughly the increase if the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps melt completely). California acquires a couple of nice little inland seas, Oregon gets a nice bay where much of the Willamette Valley is today, Florida is gone, and the Mississippi Bay extends inland most of the way to Arkansas.

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  4. Er [anti-bullying instruction]: I’ve often wondered how anti-bullying campaigns worked (that was after my time in high school).

    I suspect any effective anti-bullying campaign would have to include some sort of raising awareness among teachers about how their actions/words might enable bullying. There were some gym teachers I had who, in my opinion, adopted attitudes and said things that encouraged bullying. They probably did not intend to, but that’s how it seemed to play out. There were also some academic teachers I had who sometimes, in my opinion, crossed the line in some of the things they said to students who were either lazy or just not that smart. (Those weren’t directed at me, and I’ll say upfront that while I was sometimes a victim of bullying, I was in many ways a bully myself. I didn’t threaten with physical harm, but I could be rather caustic and I made fun of some out-group people.)

    By the way, I know this is kind of old (last January), but has anyone read this Noah Berlatsky piece on bullying. I think it’s great (if tangential to the point of anti-bullying campaigns): http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/01/why-geeks-get-bullied-its-not-necessarily-for-being-geeks/272723/

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